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Archive for: July 2011

PHOTOS: WCA offers Piedmont a free lunch

Allen Cox flipped hot dogs and burgers at a cookout sponsored by WCA for Piedmont residents.

Volunteers from WCA braved high temperatures on Saturday to offer the Piedmont community a free lunch with a hot dog and hamburger cookout in the parking lot of Williams Foods grocery store.

Jared Franz, one of the volunteers with the waste management company, said the cookout was a way to give back to the community and remind victims of the May 24 tornado that they have not been forgotten.

“The stuff that some (Piedmont) families went through was tragic and we are here to help,” Franz said. “We service the Piedmont area and we wanted residents to know that we haven’t  forgot about them and their needs.”

In addition to a free lunch for all that stopped by, Franz said donations were also being collected. Franz said there were 20 to 30 employees and volunteers at the cook out.

Chloe Rowland, 3, of Piedmont enjoys a cookie and a hot dog at the WCA cookout on July 30.

Michael Pippin and Amy Jo Lindsey passed out free hot dogs and hamburgers to Piedmont residents at a cookout sponsored by WCA on July 30.

Trevor Rowland, 13, enjoys a hot dog with his brother Payton Rowland, 11, at a cookout sponsored by WCA on July 30.

PHOTOS: Piedmont gathers for picnic, thanks first responders

Daegan Mowery, 2, enjoys a free sample from McDonald's at Friday's community picnic in Piedmont.

The best of Piedmont was on full display Friday as hundreds of residents gathered for a community picnic as a way to fellowship and say “thank you” to emergency personnel that had responded in the wake of the May 24 tornado.

“This is a good day,” Mayor Valerie Thomerson said. “I think we really needed this.”

In the field next to city hall several regional companies – such as Chesapeake Energy, Love’s and McDonald’s – set up booths offering free food and drinks, KOCO Channel 5 televised its evening news casts from a mobile studio, and kids partook in activities such as a moon bounce and face painting station.

The event was created as a celebration of the hundreds of police and rescue crews that came to Piedmont to offer help when a tornado ripped through town earlier this year. Channel 5 had notified city officials that it had an interest in doing a day of filming in town to highlight Piedmont’s community spirit and it was decided to merge the two events together.

Joey Owens has been with the Richland Fire Department for over half a year and came to Piedmont with his company after the tornado.

“As soon as I got (to town) I got with my chief and we headed over to (Falcon) Lake and started searching for the (missing) 3-year-old boy,” Owens said. “That’s what we were doing until after midnight.”

Owens said he was just one of many rescue workers that came to Piedmont and it felt rewarding to be thanked with a community picnic.

“I didn’t know it was going to be this big; it’s exciting,” Owens said. “You want (appreciation) but you don’t say anything about it, but it’s always good to have the recognition. It makes it even better to do your job.”

Stuart Eldridge lives in Piedmont and is a member of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. On the night of the tornado he was off duty and was out of town. About an hour after the tornado passed he traveled back to Piedmont and was grateful to find his house unharmed. Eldridge attempted to help out that night and traveled into damaged neighborhoods the next day with other members of this department.

“When we have an emergency call we help whoever,” Eldridge said. “But when it’s your hometown you are a little more concerned and it means something.”

Emergency workers spent the picnic mingling with residents, some of which had lost their home in the tornado. Community organizations, such as Feed the Children, were also present to help bring relief to storm victims. T-shirts were on sale to raise money for relief efforts and dozens of volunteers from local businesses and Channel 5’s Helping Hands Tour were also on hand.

Mayor Valerie Thomerson meets with members of the Oklahoma City Fire Department at a community picnic on July 29.

Brice Harvey, 6, holds up a t-shirt that was sold to raise money for tornado relief.

Website offers drought resources to area farmers

The Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Team has created a website in order to help area farmers impacted by the severe drought and heat of the past few months. The site includes maps, forecast information and hay listings in an effort to provide drought related resources.

By visiting www.beefextension.com and clicking on “drought resources,” famers can find over 50 links to information ranging from cattle management to tax information for livestock and crop lost due to the weather. The website also has updated information on the current burn ban and the regulations involved.

Wildcat offensive line looks to answer questions

Piedmont’s offensive line comes into this season as one of the team’s biggest question marks, but coaches say they are confident this group of guys will be able to help the Wildcats succeed.

One of the Wildcats’ biggest question marks going into the 2011 season is how the offensive line will adapt to a new offensive scheme.

At times last season, the line wasn’t able to give much time to the quarterback as he tried to get the ball down the field. With more of an emphasis being put on the passing game, the line will be called upon even more this season.

“What we’re doing (this year) is different enough, that there has been a learning curve for those guys,” Coach Craig Church said. “They’re picking it up fairly quickly, though. I definitely think (the offensive line) has progressed as fast as any. Coach (Justin) Jackson does a great job with them.”

Church said that the Kingfisher scrimmages went a long way towards the line figuring things out.  There are a lot of concepts that a coach can tell a player about that they won’t really get until someone in another jersey is coming at them.

“At the Kingfisher camp, we didn’t look good inside,” Church said. “But a light came on, I definitely saw them start to play much better as that day went on.”

Lane Denwalt played center for the Wildcats last season, but is making the move to left tackle. Jacob Harris looks to start at guard, and is described as a steady and hard worker by his coaches. Hunter Winkle has been playing at both guard and tackle. Hunter Amos has been pegged as this year’s center and while undersized, has been praised for being steady and having good feet. The right tackle position is still being figured out, but a number of players have been working out there.

“Depth has been our biggest issue,” Church said. “Depth has a bigger impact on the line than anywhere else. We’re deeper at the skill positions, but a lot of schools this size are like that. There just are not a lot of big kids. It’s similar to my experience in 6A (at Stillwater), but you could argue that for 4A, we’re small.”

Church explained that the line has shifted to a zone blocking scheme, where the linemen block whoever comes into their ‘zone’ and don’t pick who they will block before the snap. Church said the scheme was introduced in the ‘60s to help smaller schools and the short passing game. Players try to get the ball out faster, so the linemen don’t have to engage with the defenders for extended periods of time.

“I think that this scheme is playing into what we want to do well,” Church said. “It will allow them to be athletes and use their ability and the defender’s momentum against them. Then, it’s all up to the back to make the correct read.”

The general idea of the hurry-up offense the Wildcats will use this season is designed to keep the flow of the game in Piedmont’s favor. The scheme will spread out defenses, which should limit the number of interior pass rushers, and get the ball into space quickly. The hurry-up doesn’t mean the team just runs to the line and snaps the ball either, it allows a team to get set and then rest when needed. By getting to the line quickly, it forces the opposing team to keep their players in or risk penalty. That’s a good spot for any driving offense to be.

“Honestly, there is no magic bullet to (building stamina),” Church said. “The last things we want to do is let kids think that being thin at a position is an out. Conditioning has been a major part of our summer pride and the kids are buying into it. We have a lot of kids playing both ways, but a lot of schools have to do the same thing, so it’s not an out.”

The thing about the offensive line is that no one ever notices their hard work until something goes wrong. A quarterback getting sacked always draws more attention than the many times the line gives him enough time to make a completion. Like the rest of the squad, there are going to be some growing pains this season. However, the line is picking up the system quickly and hope to turn the question mark into an exclamation point.

Piedmont player joins USA in games against Czech Republic squad

The Oklahoma Athletics Gold (black uniforms), including Piedmont’s own Caitlyn Deason (back middle), played the Czech Republic team recently and beat them in a three game series 2-1. The Oklahoma Athletics have qualified for the ASA Gold Nationals tournament, which is held in San Diego, July 24-30.

During summer ball, it’s a common occurrence for teams to travel around the country and play teams from different states.

It’s a pretty rare reward to be able to play a team from a different continent.

Caitlyn Deason, who plays short stop for the Lady Wildcats, plays for the Oklahoma Athletics Gold and got just that sort of opportunity a couple weeks ago when they played a squad from the Czech Republic.

“It was weird because they spoke a different language,” Deason said. “They were a lot quicker (than most of the teams we’ve played). We played three games against them and won the first two but lost the third.”

Deason is in her first year of playing for the Oklahoma Athletics, a team she heard about through some of the softball relationships she has made in the past. She plays outfield and second base for the competitive squad.

“We played (the Czech Republic team) on one of the side fields at the National Hall of Fame stadium,” Deason said. “It was a familiar experience, because I’ve played so many state games there.”

Deason and the Athletics left for Gold Nationals last week and will be gone for a week. While at the national tournament, the team will play at least four games.

“It’s my first time to go (to Nationals), it’s exciting,” Deason said.

The Oklahoma Athletics Gold started practice in February.

“(Playing competitive softball) definitely helps keep you up and keep you in shape,” Deason said. “It’s been great for the experience, skill development, and traveling that I have gotten to do. We qualified for Nationals in Louisiana, but my favorite trip was to Colorado. It was a showcase tournament and there were just a bunch of people there, it was great.”

Service Center collecting school supplies

The Piedmont Service Center is now collecting school supplies for Piedmont families with financial hardship and those affected by the tornadoes.

Those wishing to donate can choose items off the school supply lists or fill a backpack according to grade and school. The PSC needs to have at least three backpacks for each grade Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade. Middle School and High School students will only be given basic supplies until they get their supply lists on the first day of school.

“We’ve been doing a school supply drive since 2001,” Regina Mayabb, Director at the PSC, said. “Last year, we helped 37 kids. We expect more this year because of the tornado. We’ll be accepting donations through the end of August.

“When you are already in need, filling up a backpack is very expensive. What we do helps those kids feel better on their first day of school. We don’t want any child to be the one without. Our hope is to have people donate full backpacks of items, but we gladly accept and appreciate all donations.”

If someone is in need of school supplies, the service center urges those people to call or come into the center. They will need to supply the center with the school, grade, gender of the student and a contact phone number.

“We are always short on high school supplies,” Mayabb said. “Calculators, ear buds, high school backpacks, we always run short.”

Those wishing to donate monetarily may do so as well.

“Some schools require that the students bring money for a certain fee or shoes, and that money we give to the school directly in that student’s name,” Mayabb said.

Service center needs: backpacks, four-pack Play-Doh classic colors, folding rest mats, baby wipes, reams of copy paper, reams of colored copy paper, antibacterial hand sanitizer, paper plates (large and small), quart and gallon size Ziploc bags, scientific calculators, flash drives, ear buds, No. 2 pencils sharpened and not sharpened (Ticonderoga) 24 and 36 count, 8 ct. Crayola Crayons, Crayola Classic Thick Markers-washable, Crayola Classic Thin Markers-washable, Elmer’s Glue Sticks, 5-inch Fiskar Scissors (blunt, pointed and sharp), 7-inch sharp scissors, adult scissors, Elmer’s school glue, pocket folder (no brads) plastic folder (with pockets and brads), spiral notebook (wide ruled) Plastic school box (5×8 and 9×6), Crayola or Prang 8 color watercolor paint set, Kleenex Tissue, pink pearl erasers, 12 and 24 count Crayola Colored pencils, red medium ink pens, wide ruled filler paper, yellow highlighters, mesh binder pocket, hand held pencil sharpener w/shavings container, 1 1/8″ Wood Ruler-Standard/Metric, Expo Black Broad-Tip Dry Erase Markers ( blue & black), Expo Thin-line Dry Erase Markers, 3×5 100 count ruled index cards, black sharpies, Extra fine tip sharpies,1 inch 3 ring binders, 2 inch 3 ring binder, 10 count Crayola Slim-line markers, Trapper Keeper w/zipper pencil pouch (Five Star-Mead), Twistable Colored Pencils, Twistable Crayons, assortment colors of pocket folders with holes to go in Trapper Keeper, rubber cement,brown paper lunch bags, 3 prong zippered pencil pouch, colored card stock,composition notebooks,graph paper, ink pens (blue or black ink), college ruled paper, and college ruled spiral notebooks.

Nearly 1 million pounds of food distributed in Canadian County

Last year more than 85,000 hours of service was donated, resulting in a savings of over $1 million in labor costs for the food bank (Courtesy Photo/Oklahoma Regional Food Bank).

It was a recording setting year for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma as 46.2 million pounds of food was distributed throughout the state during the past year.

During Fiscal Year 2011, the food bank helped feed hungry families through 825 partner agencies and school agencies. A total of 53 counties are served by the food bank, including Canadian County, where 971,897 pounds of food was distributed.

“We distributed 27 percent more food this year than the previous year,” Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank, said.  “In June alone, we distributed more than 3.6 million pounds.  Yet, many are still struggling with hunger.”

According to a released from the food bank, Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation and nearly 600,000 residents are food insecure. Each week the food bank is able to help feed more than 90,000 people with the majority of those served being children, senior citizens and working families.

However, as the amount of hungry families grows across the state, so are the financial challenges faced by the food bank. Costs for food and distribution continue to increase and food bank officials say it’s difficult to keep up with demand.

“Unfortunately, the cost for food, boxes, packaging materials and just about everything we use to distribute food to people in need has gone up,” Bivens said.  “Last year, we had more food leaving our shelves than we had coming in – and that’s a scary trend.  We distributed 2.4 million pounds more in Fiscal Year 2011 than we received.  If this trend continues, we will only have a ten to 15 day supply of food, as opposed to our 45 to 65 day supply.”

Because of the need the food bank is reaching out to local residents for donations and financial support. Bivens said the food bank’s administrative costs are less than 4 percent of the total budget, meaning 96 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to food costs and distribution.

Volunteers are also needed. Last year more than 85,000 hours of service was donated, resulting in a savings of over $1 million in labor costs.

For more information, call (405) 972-1111 or visit www.regionalfoodbank.org.

Local counties included in disaster declaration

Farmers in Canadian and Kingfisher counties are eligible to be considered for federal assistance following a disaster declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gov. Mary Fallin asked the USDA to issue a disaster declaration last month in order to help farmers suffering from wildfires and drought. The USDA announced today that 74 Oklahoma counties will be covered. Nowata, Craig and Ottawa counties are not.

According to a USDA release, a Secretarial disaster designation makes farmers in designated counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). That assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program. Farmers in designated counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. Farmers interested in requesting additional information should contact their local FSA office.

The Canadian County office is located at 1625 Highway 66 in El Reno. The Kingfisher County office is located at 1600 S 13TH St. in Kingfisher.

Following the disaster declaration announcement, Fallin said the move by the USDA will give much needed assistance to local farmers who have suffered through one of the worst years for drought on record.

“The weather has made this an extremely tough year for Oklahoma farmers,” Fallin said. “This declaration will help those who have been hard hit by drought and other bad conditions to get the assistance they need.”

Sander brings technology experience to Surrey Hills Elementary

Maggie Sander is the new principal at Surrey Hills Elementary School. She has over 30 years of education experience, including technology and computer education.

After being a principal in Woodward for eight years and working in the district for 34 years, Maggie Sander will be starting anew at Surrey Hills Elementary as the new principal.

“My grandkids are here,” Sander said. “I’m here every weekend and I was ready for a change. I’ve always heard good things about the district, and how it’s on the cutting edge. I’m really excited about being a part of things here.”

Sander taught first-grade, fourth-grade and fifth-grade in Woodward before teaching elementary computers and technology. She then was an assistant principal at a middle school for two years.

“I believe Surrey Hills has a great start and I believe we just need to continue the growth that the school has made over the last few years,” Sander said. “Technology is a big part and I would like to see us add more to stay current. All future jobs will incorporate some sort of technology, and it might seem early, but learning about that technology starts now.”

One thing that attracted Sander to Surrey Hills was the family-like positive atmosphere that surrounds the school. The parent involvement at Surrey Hills was also something that impressed Sander. A system of active parents can help make any school function or event run smoother, and is something Sander truly appreciates.

“My goal is to make (Surrey Hills Elementary) a good place to be, that kids want to come to,” Sander said. “When they enjoy their environment, they learn more.”

The transition period for principals can always be tough, but former Surrey Hills principal Carla Smith is helping to make the change an easy one.

“Carla has been an awesome help,” Sander said. “I have some big shoes to fill. I’ve been really impressed with everyone I’ve met (at Surrey Hills Elementary).”

Students will report to Surrey Hills Elementary on Aug. 18. A supply list is available online. While there are no major projects on the slate for this year, Sander said she was very impressed by the new cafeteria and office space that was built last school year.

“I’m bringing in some new ideas that I want our team to discuss,” Sander said. “We’ll discuss ideas and make decisions on how we can add some variation to what the teachers have been doing.”

Mayor and Williams to meet

Jeff Williams, president of Williams Foods

Two weeks after saying he would seek legal action against the city, Jeff Williams has a meeting scheduled with Mayor Valerie Thomerson that Williams called a step in the right direction.

Following a council vote earlier this month to continue negotiations with Williams’ attorney concerning $1.9 million in construction assistance, Williams said he was faced with no other choice but to take the city to court. Williams complained that he was unable to communicate with the city council on the issue but now said a meeting between himself and the mayor has him believing that the issue is headed for a agreement.

“I do feel optimistic by this meeting,” Williams said. “I believe the dialogue has started and this is all I have ever asked for.”

Williams and the mayor are scheduled to meet on Thursday. Williams said he called the mayor last week to request a meeting and she told him she had wanted to make a similar request.

“I would love to believe it is headed in the right direction,” Williams said. “I think (the idea to meet) was a mutual thing.”

Williams said he still believed issuing bonds would be in the best interest of both his business and the city of Piedmont and he was hopeful that conversations with the mayor would lead to better communication with the city council.

“I just want to get to where we can make an agreement and move down the road,” Williams said. “(The grocery store) was supposed to be the greatest thing that ever happened to Piedmont, but it got twisted.”

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