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Archive for: October 2011

STATE CHAMPS: Pride of Piedmont makes it eight in a row

The Pride of Piedmont Marching Band won the 4A state title last weekend, its eighth straight title and its tenth in the last 11 years. The band will now set its sights on its trip to Atlanta for the Bands of America Super Regional. (Photo by Mary Brown)

The Pride of Piedmont marching band claimed its eighth straight Class 4A state championship last weekend. This is the band’s tenth state championship in the last eleven years. The Pride finished in second place overall, finishing just .6 points behind Coweta.

The Pride captured its Class 4A title by winning all three captions; music, visual and general effect during preliminary competition. Piedmont beat out Sallisaw and Ft. Gibson in its class.

In finals competition, the Pride was mere decimal points behind grand champion Coweta. Piedmont finished with an overall score of 84, while Coweta finished with a score of 84.6. The Pride finished .5 points behind Coweta in the music caption, 4.5 points behind Coweta in the visual caption and one point behind Coweta in the general effect caption.

“I’m very pleased with our performance,” Director Darnell Zook said. “We performed well twice when it mattered. The kids are satisfied and we believe that was the best we could perform at that moment. It’s been a very interesting situation, to win 4A state and have something higher to shoot for. Right now, we’re doing a lot of things right. We lost to a school who is about one and a half times larger than us. We had a huge

crowd of supportive fans, like we always do. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”

The Pride of Piedmont Marching Band won the 4A state title last weekend, its eighth straight title and its tenth in the last 11 years. The band will now set its sights on its trip to Atlanta for the Bands of America Super Regional.

The Pride of Piedmont will now refocus and set their sights on their trip to Atlanta a week from today. The Pride will be competing in the Bands of America Super Regional at the Georgia Dome.

“We leave a week from (today) and we will be gone for about four days,” Zook said. “In addition to our performance, we will also tour a few things in the area. We’re taking it a little easy this week, and next week we will be back full tilt and then off to Georgia. Show wise, we have a few things that we’re going to tweak. Most all of the schools at the contest have enrollments of over 3,500. We will definitely be one of the smallest schools there, but we are very excited to compete against some of the best groups in the country.”

Piedmont will perform at 11 a.m. on Oct. 29.

Elementary school using local produce for after-school program

Mike Jindra of Rhonda’s Specialty Foods delivers locally grown produce to Piedmont Elementary School to be used in during the after-school program. The school is trying out healthier snack options, such as Oklahoma-grown apples and pears. (Photo by Ben Felder)

Many nutrition experts believe a healthy lifestyle begins at childhood and that is why Mike Jindra is so excited to be able to offer students at Piedmont Elementary School a healthier snack option during the after-school program.

Jindra, who along with his wife runs Rhonda’s Specialty Foods, is working with the elementary school to provide organic and locally grown food for the nearly 25 students that participate in the after-school program. Jindra delivered the first order to the school this week, which included apples and pears grown in Midwest City, salsa made in Yukon and honey-sticks produced in Noble.

“We have been just going to Sam’s Club and getting what we could there,” Principal Shari Zimmerman said. “But when Mike brought in this idea we thought it was a good thing to try. Eating healthier is always on my mind and this is a good way to introduce healthier options to kids.”

The after-school program runs from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and students are given a snack each day. Zimmerman said the school hasn’t completely committed to locally grown food, mainly due to cost, but she believes it can be a start which leads to other programs, such as a school garden and field trips to local farms.

“I’m excited to see how receptive the kids are,” Zimmerman said. “Sometimes it takes a little time to change their pallet.”

Jindra said his passion is to encourage more people to eat locally and naturally grown foods and it is critical to develop those habits in children.

“Kids is where it has to start,” Jindra said. “The national health trends are a little alarming when it comes to childhood obesity, so providing the healthiest options for kids is very important.”

Jindra has spoken to teachers at Piedmont Elementary about incorporating healthy eating into lesson plans and said he is working on starting a healthy kids club in Piedmont where parents could place orders for healthy snacks.

Piedmont Soccer club receives donations

Judy Richards of Richards Car Care presented the Piedmont Soccer Club with a donation of 400 youth soccer balls. (Photo by Ben Felder)

Youth soccer in Piedmont received a boost on Saturday with donations from two local companies that will help support the town’s growing soccer community.

Carter Chevrolet of Okarche made a donation of $500 to the Piedmont Soccer Club and a representative from the company was on hand for a Saturday match to present the check.

“We sponsor a youth baseball team in the spring and a soccer league in the fall,” Nancy Davis, a retail sales manager with Carter, said. “Since Okarche doesn’t have a soccer program we decided to reach out to our neighbors in Piedmont.”

Soccer Club President Wayne Kimberling said the money will help the organization continue to build a foundation as it works towards building a permanent soccer facility in Piedmont and growing its membership. Last year the club featured nearly 200 youth players but membership decreased this fall due to a lack of facilities.

“A lot of (Piedmont’s) soccer population is going to places like Yukon and Mustang because we don’t have the space,” Kimberling said. “There is an interest in the sport here and we are working at getting a place to build some fields. We are always looking for land.”

Saturday’s games were played in a field at the Eastwind II development off Sarah Road.

Soccer players also went home with new soccer balls after Richard’s Car Care of Oklahoma City donated 400 bright orange balls in two different sizes. Judy Richards said the donation was a partnership with Uniroyal to help local soccer programs.

“Now that we are out in Piedmont we wanted to help out,” Richards said.

Piedmont stays in playoff hunt with 42-34 win over Elk City

Cassius Calhoun scored Piedmont's final touchdown, his second of the game. (Photo by Greg Evans)

Piedmont led by as many as three touchdowns Friday night and weathered a fierce Elk City comeback before winning 42-34 and moving to 3-1 in district play, which puts the Wildcats into a two-way tie with Bishop McGuinness for second place.

The Wildcats (4-3, 3-1) got off to a strong start against Elk City, marching down the field on the opening drive and scoring on a Collin Bricker to Dylan Broyles pitch and catch. The Elks would respond on the ensuing drive with a long kick return and a 45-yard touchdown run. Tevin Mitchell returned the Elk City kickoff to midfield and Cassius Calhoun and Bricker’s legs got Piedmont into position for a Bricker to Christian Foster touchdown connection. The Piedmont defense would get a stop on the following drive and Calhoun would run over Elk City defenders to give Piedmont a 21-7 lead after the first quarter.

Foster broke out on defense against Elk City coming up with a number of crucial pass break ups, his first of which came on an early second quarter Elk City drive. Pass break ups by Foster, Blake Robinson and Cameron Cowan would eventually force Elk City into a turnover on downs. A major momentum shift in the game came midway during the second quarter when Elk City muffed a punt and Piedmont recovered on the Elk’s 16. The muffed punt set up Piedmont for another Foster receiving touchdown, and its largest lead of the game. Elk City would respond with a long rushing touchdown on its next drive.  Foster intercepted an Elk City pass late in the quarter to quiet a deep Elk drive. The Wildcats took a 28-14 lead into the half.

The Piedmont defense came out of the half with a big stop against the Elks and allowed Bricker to find Foster for another touchdown, this time from 42 yards out. The teams traded positions for much of the third quarter, but Elk City started its rally with a quarterback keeper score, then a 97-yard passing touchdown to end the third. The touchdown pass pulled the Elks within one score of Piedmont.

The Wildcat offense stalled for much of the second half and the defense picked up the slack in the fourth by caused a number of key turnovers. Darrius Burris recovered a fumble at midfield and Bricker stripped an Elk City player of the ball with 3:33 left in the game. Three plays after stripping the ball from Elk City, Bricker called his own number and darted down the field to set up a Calhoun touchdown with :35.4 left on the clock.

But Elk City wasn’t done and used a Piedmont penalty to get into scoring position and tossed a long touchdown pass to put the score at 42-34 Wildcats. The Elks would fail a two-point conversion. Foster recovered the onside kick and Piedmont was able to hand Elk City only their second loss on the season.
Bricker finished the game with 246 yards and four scores through the air on 18-31 passing, and 62 yards on 10 rushes. Calhoun put in a tough day on the ground rushing 33 times for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Foster reeled in 13 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. Broyles caught four passes for 37 yards and a score and Austin Ray caught one pass for six yards.

Collin Bricker forced a late game fumble that helped Piedmont seal a win over Elk City. (Photo by Greg Evans)

“We were able to stand up their runner and I got in their and stripped the ball,” Bricker said of his game changing play. “My guys gave me some room and I was able to hold onto the ball, that sealed the game.

“This win gives us a chance for a home play off game. That was our goal before the season, and this gives us a real good shot at that.”

“Our offense was pretty balanced (on Friday) and that is what we like to see,” Coach Craig Church said. “We were physical on the ground and both our long and short passing games were productive. Our special teams continues to put us in good position, Josh Brown kicked the ball out of the endzone all but twice, and it’s tough for any team to take the ball 80 yards to score. Our biggest issue on defense was missed tackles. Our defense played great last week, and our offense played great this week. If we ever get everything on the same page on the same day, then we can be really special.

“This puts us in great position (for our goal). It makes next week that much bigger, both of us (Piedmont and Bishop McGuinness) have beat Elk City and lost to Clinton. (The McGuinness) game is the next step. We have to take care of business against the last two, but this is the next step. They are a big physical team and will be different from what we faced (on Friday).”

Piedmont moves to 4-3 on the season and 3-1 in district play. The Wildcats will travel to Bishop McGuinness next week.

City hires interim city manager

The Piedmont city council voted 5-0 to offer the city’s interim city manager job to James Crosby, who was formally city manager of Yukon.

Crosby, 70, served as city manager of Yukon from 1994 to 2011, according to his resume on file with the city. Crosby also served as General Services director for Oklahoma City from 1991 to 1994 and executive vice president of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 1991. Crosby is also a graduate of Central State University in Edmond.

The council voted to have City Attorney Tom Ferguson draft an interim package offer to be submitted to Crosby. No details of that package were shared at Tuesday’s meeting.

The council met in executive session to discuss the interim position and also interviewed Douglas Henley, who has served as a consultant to several Oklahoma cities, including Chickasha and Kingfisher.

The council also voted to post a job description for a permanent city manager with the Oklahoma Municipal League and on the city’s website. The council also expressed a desire to find the best possible person for the open position, even if that required going out of state.

During the meeting Councilman Larry Gage asked if the council would require the new city manager to live in Piedmont. The council expressed support for the idea but decided to discuss the issue further at a later meeting.

The city manager’s position became vacant last month after the council voted to remove Clark Williams.

Attorney’s letter challenges Davis’ status on council

Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Davis

An attorney representing a group of Piedmont citizens has raised concerns over the appointment of Jeff Davis to the city council and said a legal challenge could be a next step.

In a letter dated Oct. 4, Russell Mulinix, an attorney with the firm Mulinix, Ogden, Hall and Ludlam, a response was request from City Attorney Tom Ferguson on several issues that were challenged as violating city charter.

“The attempted appointment of Jeff Davis to the vacant (Ward 3) council seat is patently improper on multiple grounds,” Mulinix wrote in the letter. “At the Aug. 22, 2011, meeting the matter was plainly declared an ‘impasse’ after a vote of two for Davis and two abstentions. No action occurred at the Sept. 26, 2011, meeting to appoint Davis except the mayor’s ultra vires acts and statements that she had appointed (Davis) and unilaterally administered the oath to him on the previous Friday.”

Mulinix claims in his letter that the actions taken by Mayor Valerie Thomerson were improper and does not give Davis any proper authority to act as a councilman. The letter asked for a response from Ferguson by Oct. 11 and the immediate removal of Davis from the council.

“I talked to Tom Ferguson on Monday and he asked if he could have an extension to respond,” Mulinix said by phone on Thursday morning. “I told him I didn’t have a lot of time to wait.”

The letter states that it represents the interests of Mike and Mary Bell, Ron and Donya Hau, Bill Long, Brad Waller and John Simpson. Mulinix said no legal challenge or litigation has been filed yet, but said it is an option his clients may consider.

An attorney representing a group of Piedmont citizens filed a letter with City Attorney Tom Ferguson last week challenging the validity of Jeff Davis' position on the council and said legal action could be taken if Davis was not removed from the council. (Photo by Ben Felder)

“There is definitely a litigation option and my clients make those final decisions,” Mulinix said. “It’s our position that Jeff Davis has no authority to be on the council.”

Davis was appointed councilman of Ward 3 last month following the resignation of Bill Sharp over the summer. During the council’s August meeting Wade Johnson and Hoss Cooley voted to appoint Davis but Larry Gage and Vernon Woods abstained, claiming it left the council without a quorum. At one point Thomerson said she was casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of Davis but no official action was taken as the city attorney said he wanted to review the matter further.

During its September meeting Thomerson said she had been advised by the city attorney that she had the authority to break the council’s tie and administer the oath of office to Davis. Thomerson told the council she had appointed Davis three days before the meeting but no public announcement was made and at least two council members said they were not aware of Davis’ appointment until the announcement at the Sept. 26 meeting.

Mulinix contends that because Davis was inappropriately appointed that any action taken by the council over the past month is void, including the firing of City Manager Clark Williams.

“It is wholly inconsistent with the Piedmont Charter for the mayor to be attempting to wield such power as the firing of a city manager of the unilateral appointment of a city councilman,” Mulinix wrote in the letter to Ferguson. “Please advise me if you agree or disagree with the clear language of the charter. Failure to take these necessary acts will subject the city to even more exposure than it currently has acquired from the improper actions that occurred at the Sept. 26, 2011, council meeting.”

Attorney general discusses federalism in visit to Piedmont

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt spoke in Piedmont on Oct. 13 at a legislative breakfast. (Photo by Ben Felder)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt paid a visit to Piedmont on Thursday morning and spoke to a group of citizens and civic leaders about his office’s fight against a growing regulatory environment  in Washington D.C. that he said is hurting rural America.

Pruitt was a guest speaker at a legislative breakfast sponsored by the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce and Piedmont Public School District’s board of education. The quarterly event gives residents a chance to hear from state and federal government officials and was held at the Piedmont Municipal Building.

Pruitt, who was elected attorney general last year, said his office has filed two lawsuits against the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. However, Pruitt said he does not refer to the controversial health care legislation as Obamacare because the issue is not about politics for him.

“(Healthcare) is a substantial problem with how we administer it in this country but that’s not what the lawsuit is about,” Pruitt told the Piedmont audience. “I recognize that there is a need to have a more efficient way of administering healthcare but this is about one issue; the Constitution.

“If the U.S. government has the power to require you to pull money out of your pocket and require to you to buy something they want you to buy then where are the boundaries?,” Pruitt said. “If the U.S. government has the power to make you buy healthcare they have the power to make you buy a GM car. That’s what the lawsuit is about, that’s why we are battling on your behalf.”

Pruitt referred to the legislation’s mandate to purchase health insurance and said Oklahoma’s lawsuit was filed in an effort to prevent residents from being forced to purchase a product.

Pruitt also spoke about the Environmental Protection Agency and what he called a “regulatory environment” that is strangling local businesses.

“The EPA and other agencies are acting in a super legislative way and we are responding to it,” he said. “You need to be concerned about an attitude that emanates from Washington that says we know best.”

Several state and federal government officials were also in attendance, including Rep. Mike Inns who praised Pruitt’s efforts against the EPA.

“EPA has been high on (the state Legislature’s) list as far as the agriculture community is concerned,” Enns said. “I encourage you to keep fighting.”

Pruitt also spoke briefly about his concern over the federal government’s involvement in the banking industry, especially related to community banks. Pruitt said at one time there were as many as 12,000 community banks across the country but today that number was closer to 7,500. Piedmont is home to a community bank in F&M Bank.

“Sixty-eight percent of all money in this country is deposited into seven banks,” Pruitt said. “The regulatory environment is strangling the life out of community banks and I will tell you it’s intentional because the (federal government) can better manage an economy when you have all your money in just seven banks.”

The next legislative breakfast is scheduled for Jan. 12. The chamber is also holding its next luncheon on Nov. 3 and will feature Jeff Mills, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Board Association, who will discuss what it takes to run for elected office.

Cooley recall election set for February

Ward 4 Councilman Hoss Cooley

A special election for the seat of Ward 4 city councilman will be held Feb. 14, 2012, the city council decided during a special Tuesday meeting.

A petition was submitted and certified last month to force a recall election for Ward 4 Councilman Hoss Cooley and the council voted 4-0, with Cooley abstaining, to hold the election at the earliest date possible.

City charter states that an election must be held within 30 to 45 days of the petition being certified but the county election board is not able to conduct an election in Piedmont until February. The deadline to file for a November election has already passed and the state Legislature is not allowing December and January elections as voting machines are replaced

During its September meeting the city council discussed holding its own election and Councilman Vernon Woods said he felt the city could conduct its own election whenever it wanted and asked City Attorney Tom Ferguson to research the matter.

On Tuesday Ferguson said he spoke with Canadian County Election Board Director Wanda Armold concerning the available dates for a recall election and said Armold believed the earliest a recall election could be held would be Feb. 14, 2012.

“Ms. Armold advised me that she was of the opinion that the city of Piedmont did not have any choice other than to use the County Election Board to conduct its special election,” Ferguson said in a statement to the council. “She indicated that she thought that there was some provision which allowed municipalities of less than 1,000 to conduct their own elections.”

Piedmont’s population is well over 1,000.

Ferguson said it was his legal opinion that the recall election must be held on Feb. 14, 2012.

During discussion of the issue, Councilman Jeff Davis made a motion to not hold a special election since the regular election date for the Ward 4 seat is in April.

“Why spend close to $8,000 for a (special) election when five to six weeks later we are going to have an election anyways?,” Davis asked.

However, Davis later withdrew his motion when Ferguson said it was his legal opinion that the city could not go against the charter simply to save money. Councilman Larry Gage said he understood Davis’ attempt to save money but felt the council had no choice.

“I agree with your reasoning on not wanting to spend money,” Gage said. “It’s not about going by the money, it’s about going by the rules and I insist that we go by the rules.”

During the September council meeting Cooley’s lawyer spoke to the council and objected to several signatures on the petition and implied that Cooley would seek legal action against the recall. Ferguson told the council on Tuesday that a legal challenge may come but it could not be filed until an election date has been filed.

“(An election date) triggers the objections to the recall,” Ferguson said.

The county election board requires 60 days notice to conduct an election, meaning it could not honor the charter’s requirement to hold an election within 30 to 45 days, even if an election were allowed this winter.

Pride of Piedmont prepares for state contest

Piedmont recently competed at the Mustang Contest and brought home first place with a score of 77.25. Piedmont was the second smallest school of the 14 in attendance.

The Pride of Piedmont marching band will be making the short trip to the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma this weekend to compete in the Oklahoma Bandmasters Association contest. The OBA contest is the marching band’s state finals.

“The top 4A and 5A bands from throughout the state will all be there,” director Darnell Zook said. “We will be contenders to win it all again, but most predictions, as of right now, have us winning Class 4A and coming in second in combined 4A-5A competition to Coweta High School. Time will tell. We actually don’t focus much on competition. We can control our preparation and our performance, that’s all. We can’t control judges or what other programs are doing. All I want is for us to perform to the best of our ability when the time comes.”

The band’s preliminary performance time is 3:45 p.m. and the finals time will be drawn after prelims, but is likely to fall sometime between 8:30 and 9:45 p.m.

Piedmont recently competed at the Mustang Contest and brought home first place with a score of 77.25. Piedmont was the second smallest school of the 14 in attendance.

“Normally, we attend these ‘big school’ contests during the season so that we can see the best judges and compete with 6A schools with large band programs,” Zook said. “We feel like the tougher the competition we see early, the better we will be by the end of our season. The goal has never really been to win any of these contests outright, and we never have before, just to see where we rank next to the big schools and get feedback from top-quality judges that contests like this have. This was a nice win for us and confirmation that we are on the right track.

“It was good for the kids to get some affirmation that they are doing well after a week in which my staff and I were particularly hard on them. It is always nice to win, but we honestly didn’t perform as well as I would have liked us to, certainly not to the level in which we are capable. This is actually the first time we have ever beaten Westmoore High School. They are a well-established program with a long track record of success. They were fifth in the state in Class 6A last year. It is definitely an achievement but we need to look at it as a comma, not a period or exclamation point.

This week’s contest will be the Pride of Piedmont marching band’s state finals and the band is expected to compete for another state title in Class 4A.

“The important stuff is yet to come. Winning all three captions is also an indication that we are more balanced than we have been previously. In past years, our music scores have always lagged behind and we had to accomplish by doing well in areas of visual performance and (general effect). I feel like this is a complete package.”

After OBA, the band will be traveling to Atlanta, Ga., to compete in the Bands of America Atlanta Super Regional. The contest is held in the Georgia Dome on Oct. 29. The contest features 32 of the top marching bands from throughout the country. Zook said that Piedmont will be a very small fish in a very large pond, but that it is something they are used to.

“Our kids have worked extremely hard,” Zook said. “It is neat to see all 139 working together towards the same goal. This is by no means a simple activity, especially at the level  in which we perform and compete. They are very dedicated to achieving all we are capable of. Piedmont is well known for bringing a large and enthusiastic army of supporters along with us. We encourage everyone to come out (to Edmond this weekend).”

Police service available 24/7

The Piedmont Police Department has 10 full time officers and at least one officer on patrol 24 hours a day.

Police Chief Tom Linn has spent his first few weeks on the job hearing from citizens about their concerns, questions and suggestions for the Piedmont Police Department and he said one rumor he has heard more than once is that the police department shuts down at night.

“Some people are under the impression that once the building closes (at 5 p.m.) there is no police service (in Piedmont),” Linn said. “But that is not true.”

Linn said there is at least one officer patrolling Piedmont roads 24 hours a day and that number is often higher during the daytime hours. The department’s office closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for walk-in visitors, but residents can still reach emergency crews by phone. The department’s dispatch rolls over to Yukon during the evening but a Piedmont officer can still be quickly dispatched to an emergency or call.

“We just don’t have the staff to have a staff member (in the station) 24/7, but if a police officer needs to bring someone here for an interview, the officer has access to the building,” Linn said.

The Piedmont Police Department has 10 full time officers, a reserve force and support personnel. Linn was hired as the police chief last month following the retirement of Jerry Koester.

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