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Archive for: January 2012

PHOTOS: Chamber presents awards during annual banquet

Tom Hill, Chairman of Kimray Inc. and Founder and Chairman of Character First was the guest speaker at the Annual Chamber Awards Banquet. On the left is Hill’s wife, Kay, and on the right is Emoly West, winner of Miss Oklahoma in 2010. West spoke to the banquet crowd about her own reflections on the Character First program. (Ben Felder)

Buel Hoar, right, was selected as the Chamber’s newest Hall of Fame inductee. (Ben Felder)

Wendy Williams, right, of Williams Foods accepts the award for business of the year during last week’s annual banquet. (Ben Felder)

The President’s Award was presented to Eric Anderson of F&M Bank at the annual Chamber banquet last Saturday. (Ben Felder)

The Most Dedicated Member Award went to Jerry Dickerson during last week’s Chamber banquet. (Ben Felder)

Amber Hite was named the Volunteer of the Year during Saturday’s Chamber banquet. (Ben Felder)

Piedmont Schools Superintendent James White presented Joy Ruiz as the district’s teacher of the year during the Chamber’s annual banquet last week. (Ben Felder)

The Chamber’s Community Service Award was presented to Rev. Darrik Acre, Rev. Gary Caldwell, Rev. Craig Eidson, Rev. Sam Powers, and Rev. Ken Richter in recognition of the work of Piedmont’s churches following the May 24, 2011 tornado. (Ben Felder)

More than $1.4M to finish PD station, new fire hydrant needed

This fire hydrant at the new police station does not meet fire code regulations and a new hydrant will need to be installed at the cost of $6,000. (Ben Felder)

Finishing Piedmont’s new police station will take more than $1.4 million and the city will have to pay an additional $250,000 to ensure the facility is furnished with needed technology and other tools.

The new station, currently under construction next to city hall on Edmond Road, is expected to be finished sometime this summer. According to a breakdown of expenses from City Manager Jim Crosby, the city has $596,911 left in its grant from the federal government, $320,722 in a loan from F&M Bank and $251,640 remaining in a capital improvement fund. However, the $1.4 million to finish construction does not include expenses for furniture, storage, closed circuit televisions, computers, phones and other items the department says it will need to have a functional police station.

The extra expenses to furnish the inside of the building total more than $100,000 and  includes $6,000 for a new fire hydrant after it was discovered that the one currently installed at the new station does not meet fire code regulations.

A fire hydrant was installed on the south side of the new police station along a service road but the road is not wide enough according to fire code regulations. In order to meet code the city will have to install a new hydrant on the north side of the building.

“The (current) fire hydrant location was in the original plans for the police station,” Crosby said. “What happened after that I couldn’t tell you because I wasn’t here.”

Crosby, who was hired this month as the city’s permanent city manager, said the plans for the police station required approval from the city engineer who is supposed to consult with the fire department on issues of fire hydrant placement. Fire Chief Andy Logan said he was never shown the plans for the new police station and the current location of the fire hydrant was ultimately approved even though it did not meet code.

During a council workshop on Monday several members of the city council asked Crosby about charging the city engineer or architect the $6,000 for the new hydrant. Crosby said the mistake was caught by the site contractor after it was too late.

$4.5M bond proposed to fix local streets

Members of the city council and other city officials listened to a presentation from City Manager Jim Crosby on Jan. 30 concerning his proposal for a $4.5 million bond to repair local streets. (Ben Felder)

The city has long complained that a lack of funding and equipment has made keeping up Piedmont’s crumbling roads an impossible task but City Manager Jim Crosby has asked the city council to consider a bond to make some significant progress in street upkeep and repair.

During a council workshop Monday night, Crosby presented a bond proposal worth $4.5 million and said the bond could be brought before voters as early as August – pending council approval.

“Roads have been at the top of the list of what people want,” Crosby said. “We (currently) have absolutely no equipment to go out and fix roads.”

The bond proposal includes money for new road paving equipment, repaving portions or 164th St. and Edmond Road, and performing road repairs on over 10 miles of other roads in Piedmont.

Projected millage rates to pay for the proposed 20-year general obligation bond would cost a property valued at $100,000 an annual rate of $126.72 the first year, decreasing for the next 20 years to a final rate of $35.49, according to projections presented to the council. For a complete list of projected rates click on the “Bond Rates” link below.

Monday’s workshop meeting did not include any votes by the council and provided city leaders and those in the public an opportunity to hear about various issues, including the bond proposal. Council members did not offer any specific comment on the bond proposal but appeared receptive to studying the issue further.

Crosby said there were other issues the city could address with a bond but believed roads were the best place to start. He said it would offer the best chance to show results to the public and build trust with voters.

“We need to show the people, first of all, we are going to get out there and accomplish something,” Crosby said.

Items listed on the $4.5 million bond proposal include:

  • New motor grader ($275,000)
  • A 10,000 sq. ft. building for storing road paving equipment ($850,000)
  • A front axle and duel rear axle dump truck ($115,000)
  • Smooth bore roller ($30,000)
  • Paving 164th Street between Cemetery Road and Piedmont Road ($600,000)
  • Paving Edmond Road between Cemetery Road and Piedmont Road ($600,000)
  • Oil and chip gravel repairs on approximately 10 miles of roads throughout Piedmont ($2,030,000)

Bond Rates

Ruiz named teacher of the year, five other teachers honored

To say Joy Ruiz is at home in Piedmont might be a rather large understatement. The 13-year veteran teacher of the Piedmont Public School District grew up in Piedmont, and so did her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandfather.

“(Piedmont is) just kind of home to me and that’s what I really love about it,” Ruiz said.

In addition to her love for her hometown, Ruiz is also passionate about teaching and that passion was recognized last week when she was named the district’s teacher of the year.

Joy Ruiz teaches technology at Piedmont middle school and was recently named the district's teacher of the year. (Ben Felder)

Ruiz is currently an instructor of computers and year book at the middle school. In a nomination form submitted by her peers, Ruiz was described as being always knowledgeable about new technology related to education, willing to help her fellow teachers and a positive role model for her students.

Ruiz began her career in Piedmont in 1998 as a third-grade teacher at Piedmont Elementary School. She later taught second- through fifth-grade, along with computers and Spanish before moving to the middle school in 2006. However, Ruiz’s time in Piedmont goes back much further than her teaching career as she is a fifth generation Piedmont resident and a 1994 graduate of Piedmont High School. She is also a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma.

“I was very honored that my peers would elect me,” Ruiz said. “That they thought I exemplified great teaching skills.”

Ruiz instructs students on how to better use technology but she also works closely with fellow teachers on helping them become more familiar with technology as it is becoming an increasingly common tool in the classroom.

“The kids are so drawn to technology now because it is at their fingertips…so to bring (technology) into the classroom just sparks their interest,” Ruiz said. “Especially when you teach it in ways (students) have never seen before.”

Ruiz said an important part of teaching technology is helping students discover how they can use new tools to find answers and perform better research.

“We are able to teach the kids…if they do have a question it becomes can you find the answer on that?” Ruiz said. “Can you find what you are looking for? (We) teach them how to learn; (technology) kind of throws it back into their court.”

Other finalists for the teacher of the year award and winners of their individual school were Pat Lewis Gray, a 34-year veteran of the district and current second-grade teacher at Piedmont Elementary School; Angie Wallen a 17-year veteran teacher and currently teaching special education at Northwood Elementary School; Julie Ely, who has taught for 17-years and is currently teaching at Stone Ridge Elementary School and Terry Huff who has taught for 37-years and is currently at Piedmont High School.

Angie Wallen

Wallen has taught for 17-years and is currently a special education instructor at Northwood Elementary School.

“Teaching is not only a job I love; it is my passion,” Wallen said. “I look forward to going to school each day and strive to help not only students, but my fellow teachers as well.”

Wallen said the best attributes for a teacher are to be energetic, enthusiastic and to always be prepared.

After teaching in Putnam City for 15-years Wallen came to Piedmont in 2010. During her time in Piedmont she has received funding from Grants for Kids, was listed in the “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and her school teacher of the year award makes it the fourth time she has received such an honor.

“I believe my greatest contribution in teaching is my ability to work with students who were not successful in other settings,” Wallen said. “Regardless of disability all students deserve an appropriate education in which they can become successful.”

Sharon Briscoe

Briscoe is a graduate of Piedmont High School and the University of Central Oklahoma. A 17-year veteran of teaching, she has taught first-grade and kindergarten and currently teaches at the Piedmont Primary School where she was named teacher of the year.

“I wanted to be a teacher from the time I attended first-grade,” Briscoe said. “My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, was an encouraging teacher. She always made me feel I could do anything. I wanted to become a teacher like her.”

Briscoe said her greatest accomplishment as a teacher has been playing a part in the creation of the pre-kindergarten program in Piedmont that is currently serving over 200 students in its seventh year. Briscoe also said she believes the role of a teacher is to not only help develop the intellect, but the whole child.

“A child needs time to develop socially and emotionally as well as academically,” Briscoe said. “As a teacher it is my responsibility to help each student learn positive ways to handle their emotions as well as teach them ways to get along socially.”

Pat Gray

Gray is a second-grade teacher at Piedmont Elementary School and has taught for 34-years. She has previously been named teacher of the year twice and was named an outstanding teacher in 1994.

Gray is a graduate of Piedmont High School and Central State University and was also a member of the 1967 state championship basketball team at PHS.

“I remain in contact with several students who now are mothers, grandmothers, teachers, plumbers and other professionals,” Gray said. “They tell me how I have touched their lives in positive ways. This is the reason all outstanding teachers teach.”

Gray also said teaching is a profession where your contributions are sometimes unseen until many years later. She recalls a time while teaching in Bethany where a student refused to practice CPR on a dummy because he didn’t want to “kiss that dummy” in front of the girl he liked. Gray agreed to work with him during her lunch break so he could learn CPR in private without being embarrassed.

“A year or so later a friend contacted me in Texas and told me that this student had saved his father’s life after his father had a heart attack,” Gray said. “I got goose bumps. As teachers we sometimes never know what effect we have on our student’s lives.”

Julie Ely

Ely has taught for 17-years after graduating from East Carolina University. She is a music teacher at Stone Ridge Elementary School and has also taught 11-years at the university level.

Ely said she was shy as a child and young adult but she began to open up as she discovered her passion for teaching.

“Something happened when I opened my mouth and heart to help others,” Ely said. “I discovered a confidence and self-worth that was new, yet welcomed, to me.”

Ely has been honored as teacher of the year at all three schools she has worked at and she says the honors have confirmed that her first passion will always be teaching.

As a music teacher Ely said she has the opportunity to teach every student at Stone Ridge and believes her role is more than just teaching music appreciation and understanding.

“I love the fact that through the nature and language of music I am able to foster in my students tolerance, patience and understanding amongst all people groups,” Ely said. “Students recognize that they are all different; however, creative expression in the arts compliments individuality and showcases unity amidst diversity.”

Terry Huff

Huff has taught for 37-years and was named district teacher of the year in 1998. He currently teaches social studies and English at Piedmont High School.

Huff said many factors led him to the teaching profession, including the example his grandfather set as a teacher, helping Huff to, “consider teaching to be an honorable if not noble vocation.”

When asked to list his greatest attributes as an educator, Huff recalls his many late night hours of preparing to become a teacher and his commitment to providing meaningful feedback to students and helping them with not only educational challenges, but life challenges as well.

“I do believe (education’s) major strengths rest in those who have been and continue to drive for success every single day in the classrooms of our schools,” Huff said. “Enthusiasm, creativity, patience, flexibility and dedication are, in my opinion, the required components necessary for success in education today, and this refers to students as well as teachers.”

PODCAST: Piedmont Daily, Ep. 7

News Editor Ben Felder talks with Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson about economic development and the city’s relationship with the local school district.

Officer fires shots during high-speed pursuit

A Piedmont police officer fired shots during a high-speed chase Saturday and now police are searching for the suspect after he escaped from an area hospital.

An officer pulled over Kevin McCage, 37, at 6:49 p.m. on Jan. 28 because of a broken headlight on McCage’s truck. During the traffic stop near the 800 block of North County Line Road, McCage provided the officers with faulty information about his identity which prompted the officer to ask McCage to exit his vehicle. McCage refused to do so and after the officer attempted to remove him by force he sped away.

Two officers began to pursue McCage and the chase proceeded to travel westbound on Edmond Road before officers lost sight of McCage’s vehicle. However, a few minutes after the chase ended the suspect was spotted again and police continued the pursuit, which traveled into Kingfisher County.

According to Police Chief Tom Linn, three Piedmont officers were involved in the pursuit into Kingfisher County. According to a source familiar with the situation, a fourth officer was called onto duty to provide coverage for the city.

During the chase McCage led officers onto a back county road in Kingfisher County and onto a dead-end service road. One of the officers attempted to block McCage’s only exit from the dead-end street but when McCage attempted to break through the barricade the officer fired three shots, according to Linn.

“The suspect attempted to run over our officer,” Linn said. “So the officer fired at him.”

The suspect was not hit by any of the shots and the chase continued for a few more miles before McCage lost control of his truck and crashed into a deserted field. McCage was airlifted to an area hospital with serious injuries but later walked out of the hospital and police are now attempting to track him down.

Linn said the officer who fired his gun has been placed on administrative leave, which is normal practice following the discharge of a weapon. Officers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma Special Bureau of Investigation have been assisting with the investigation this week.

Piedmont grad returns to hometown for art show

Kristen Vails says a lot of her upbringing was spent on horseback and now the Piedmont native is returning to her hometown with an art show that draws inspiration from her love of horses.

Vails’ paintings will be on display at the Red Dirt Artists Gallery beginning with a reception on Feb. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery is located just south of Piedmont at 13100 Colony Pointe Boulevard off Northwest Expressway. The reception is free to the public and Vails said she is looking forward to showcasing her talent in the community she grew up in.

Kristen Vails graduated from Piedmont High School in 2002 and now works as the executive director of the Plaza District in Oklahoma City. She is also an artist and will be featured at the Red Dirt Artists Gallery near Piedmont next month. (Ben Felder)

“I was just really excited that (there was an art gallery) in Piedmont,” Vails said. “I wanted to do something that would offer people that live on the north side of Oklahoma City or in Piedmont to see my work.”

Vails spent the majority of her childhood in Piedmont and graduated from Piedmont High School in 2002. After attending art school at the University of Oklahoma, she worked at the Firehouse Art Center in Norman before becoming the executive director of the Plaza District in Oklahoma City in 2008.

Much of her work depicts horses and Vails says “painting the horse in various natural instances can carry a different meaning when human emotions are conveyed.” With such a strong equestrian community in Piedmont, Vails is hoping her work will be well received in her hometown.

Artistic Journey

Besides riding her horse and participating in sports while in Piedmont, Vails also spent time working on her art. Despite Piedmont not having a large artistic community at the time, Vails credits her parents for encouraging her to explore her passion for painting.

“When I went to OU it was a little bit of culture shock (after) being in Piedmont, there wasn’t that much exposure to the arts,” Vails said. “Luckily my parents were very accepting in acknowledging the talent that I had. I had never seen abstract art or conceptual art…so I felt a lot of pressure to make art like that (when I got to college).”

Vails originally felt her paintings of horses were too cliché and she attempted to branch out, but by her senior year in college she finally embraced what she truly loved, which was painting horses.

“A lot of my background growing up was on horses,” Vails said. “I paint realistic images of horses with abstract background,” and she considers her work to be contemporary art with country and western roots.

“After being there for a few years and seeing everybody’s work…I just realized I could be true to myself.”

Building Community

Vails loved art but knew she didn’t want to make it her full time career. Her experience and interest in the non-profit sector led her to an urban neighborhood in Oklahoma City called the Plaza District, which was experiencing the beginning stages of a revitalization effort. Vails became the executive director for the neighborhood association and has seen the community become an established business and entertainment district.

“I had never heard of the (Plaza District),” Vails said. “I came down to the district and it was almost like it was a blank slate.”

Over the next four years Vails has overseen a transformation of the business district located on 16th Street in midtown Oklahoma City. The neighborhood features over 30 businesses, including independent clothing stores, a wine shop, tattoo parlor and the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

“It’s really exciting to show people how far the Plaza District has come in the last few years,” Vails said.

Vails said she has enjoyed her role in helping create a sense of community in the Plaza District and, as a resident of the neighborhood herself; she enjoys the walkablity it offers and the proximity to a variety of shops and services. In fact, part of the walk-friendliness of the neighborhood reminds her of growing up in Piedmont.

“I grew up right in the middle of Piedmont…I remember being able to walk to Wiedemann’s and grab a soda and being able to walk to Founder’s Day,” Vails said. “I think that’s what I appreciate about (being) here is that I can walk to this district. I can remember that being something that I liked about where I lived (in Piedmont).”

PHOTOS: Basketball Homecoming

Kylie Boggess was crowned homecoming queen and Collin Bricker was crowned homecoming king

Beth McAnally and Hunter Oden were the flower girl and crown bearer.

Freshmen Representatives: Hayden Priddy and Steffan Funkhouser

Sophomore Representatives: Alex Hall and Jett Swigart

Junior Representatives: Kristin Hager and Conner McFall

Seniors: Kaylee Yeager and Collin Bricker

Seniors: Raven McDaniel and James Green

Seniors: Kylie Boggess and Hunter Kirton

Seniors: Rachel Tilley and Jacob Maloney

Seniors: Kaitlyn Helt and Blake Robinson

Piedmont rally falls short, Wildcats lose 49-42

Piedmont got off to one of their better starts against the Indians on Friday night, but scored just six total points in the second and third quarters. The hole proved to be too deep and the Wildcats found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard against El Reno, 49-42.
The Wildcats started strong on Friday, with four players scoring in the first quarter. Some tough defense helped Piedmont build a 13-9 first quarter lead.
Piedmont started to fall a part in the second quarter by playing what Coach Ryan Wagner called selfish basketball. El Reno took the lead at the 6:57 mark and ran with it. Piedmont committed back-to-back goal tending violations and the Indians were up six points. Piedmont found the bottom of the net with just 1:22 left in the half, but were down 11 by that point. El Reno lead 26-18 at the half.
Things only got worse for Piedmont in the third quarter. The Wildcats only scored one point, a Collin Bricker free throw, as El Reno lead by as many as 16. El Reno only scored 11 points in the third, so the Wildcats weren’t playing poor defense. Piedmont just couldn’t score.
The fourth quarter started out much the same and it seemed like El Reno would run Piedmont out of the gym. Piedmont was down 18 early, but there was still fight left in the Wildcats. An and-one by Cameron Peters put Piedmont down 12 at the 3:57 mark. It was the spark Piedmont needed to make a run. With Bricker, Peters, Conner McFall, Adrion Williams and Christian Foster on the floor the Wildcats made their run. An intense sequence happened with around two minutes left, where Bricker scored a three and then Williams forced a turn over and scored. Instead of Piedmont getting run out the floor, the roof was about to get blown off Collett. Piedmont got within two points, but El Reno answered and quickly found themselves up six with a minute remaining. Jacob Maloney nailed a three with 25 seconds left to give Piedmont a chance. The Indians would hit two of two free throws and Piedmont didn’t get the foul they were looking for on the ensuing three. Another two of two free throw attempt by El Reno and the game was out of reach.
“We were just taking bad shots,” Hunter Kirton said of the middle two quarters. “We weren’t being coachable at all. Everything starts in practice. We have to be going hard, working hard and moving. We need to get more people more touches and get ourselves better shots.”
“(The second and third quarters were) us,” Wagner said. “Bad shot selection and selfish basketball. Once we started moving the ball, we got our shot. In the second and third, El Reno would pass the ball eight or nine times a possession. We would only have one, maybe two passes before someone took a shot. Once we started moving the ball, our offense got better and good offense leads to good defense. El Reno only scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, and that was with us fouling. A lot of stuff hurt us (on Friday) but selfish shot selection was a lot of it.
“We made a lot of progress today. This was the first time we had everyone sell out on effort. Was the execution there? No. Was the decision making there? No. But when the effort is there, you can make progress. Up to this point, I was coaching effort. When they’re giving the effort, you can start coaching the X’s and O’s.”
Piedmont drops to 10-8 on the year with the loss to El Reno.

Lady Wildcats thump El Reno, 69-37

It took Piedmont a little while to get going on Friday, but the team started to click in the second quarter and ran away from El Reno. Piedmont won 69-37 on homecoming night.
The first quarter was as close as Piedmont came to struggling on Friday night, with El Reno taking two leads before the Lady Wildcats started to pull away. At the 4:56 mark of the quarter, only Ashley Almond had scored but had done so by attacking the basket and creating contact. A big team defense quarter lead to a 10 point Piedmont lead after one.
Kylie Boggess hit back to back threes early in the second quarter to put Piedmont up 16 and the Lady Wildcats. El Reno would answer with a few quick baskets and cut the lead to five at the 5:01 mark, but some exceptional rebounding by the Lady Wildcat post players helped Piedmont post a 30-22 halftime lead.
Piedmont started the third quarter with a three by Rachel Tilley and a behind the back lay up by Sarah Parker at the 4:45 mark found Piedmont up 14. The Lady Wildcats wouldn’t look back. Piedmont lead 49-29 going into the final frame.
Parker lead the way for the Lady Wildcats down the stretch, scoring five points in the fourth, and Piedmont would lead find themselves up by as many as 34 as the reserves got a lot of minutes down the stretch.
Almond, Boggess and Parker each scored in double digits for Piedmont against El Reno.
“This was a huge win for us,” Parker said. The win against El Reno broke a two game losing streak for Piedmont. “Wins like this build confidence and help us get our intensity and team rhythm back. We had lost it. When we’re working together, everyone contributing, we’re a good team. When we’re passive, we fall behind. When we’re not selfish, we have what it takes to go a long way.”
The win moves Piedmont to 13-5 on the season.
“I think we’re starting to figure it out,” Coach Amanda Tims said. “We’re figuring out who is good at what and our roles are more defined. I think that helps make us gel better. It’s extremely import for (us to have three girls in double digits). It means we’re scoring and not waiting on others to do something. We do have some dynamic basketball players on our team. When they are all doing their job, we can be really good. We’re a 32 minutes basketball team, that’s what I’ve been telling the girls. We’re not a second half team, like some people have said.”

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