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Archive for: March 2012

PHOTOS: Piedmont Baseball, March 2

Boys soccer opens season with shootout win

Following a scoreless regulation, a shootout of five rounds resulted in a 3-2 win for the Wildcats Thursday night over Harding Charter Prep. Jared Slavens, Thomas Spencer, Erick Silva, Quent Wheeler and Daniel Smola took the shots for Piedmont and Smola, a senior, scored the game-winning goal in the fifth shootout round.

“It was very, very relaxed,” Coach Zac Selph said about the shootout. “We actually practiced this at least twice a week because you never know when you are going to have a shootout. I told them that If we do what we practice, we have a better chance at winning than (Harding).”

All five shots in the shootout were on goal, including the three that found net. Harding was also on target with its shots, but goalkeeper Daniel Yousey continued his stellar performance in the shootout to deny Harding the win.

“I try to be really calm, get really focused” Yousey said when discussing his mindset headed into the shootout. “It comes down to that in keepers versus shooters.”

Selph said the win was a team effort, but credited Yousey for making several key saves that kept Piedmont in the game.

“If it wasn’t for him, we definitely would have lost that game,” Selph said.

This is the first season for the Piedmont’s soccer program to be officially sanctioned by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association, which meant Thursday’s win was the first official win in program history.

“They started 1-0 in the history book of OSSAA,” Selph said. “They did a very, very good job.”

School board would have to delay vote for sewer partnership to be possible

The city continues to move forward on a partnership with the school district for a new sewer line, but the district says it’s not actively looking to partner with the city and at least one council member is questioning the legality of even discussing the matter.

The council had previously rejected an offer from the school district to pay $90,000 for a new sewer line near the Intermediate School, which is currently under construction on 164th Street. The district’s offer is no longer on the table but the council voted Monday to explore a potential partnership in greater detail. According to an email from City Manager Jim Crosby to the council, plans are being made for a special meeting on March 13 to discuss the partnership.

“A number of the council would like to have a special meeting on the 13th,” Crosby said in an email dated March 2. “I called our engineers this morning and expressed our desire to have their report by next week in order to have this item on the agenda.”

School Superintendent James White said Crosby had spoken with him on Wednesday about the city’s interest in getting a partnership done, but he isn’t counting on it. The school board is scheduled to meet March 12 and will be asked to approve a change order to the construction plans for the new school that will include the final plans for a lift station. The lift station is necessary because the new school will not be able to connect to the current sewer line without plans for an upgrade.

White said the school board’s approval of the change order will pretty much solidify the district’s decision to go with the lift station and could make the council’s meeting the following day unnecessary.

“I told (Crosby) if the city wanted to make some sort of proposal or offer I would take it to our board and let them look at it,” White said. “But if the board approves the change order (next week) it is pretty much a done deal.”

White said he wasn’t sure what he would advise the board to do next week but said they would have the option to table the change order and wait for the council’s meeting. However, Councilman Vernon Woods has raised objections to the special meeting and requested a legal opinion on whether or not it violated the city charter to vote on an issue twice within six months.

“If you listen to the (Feb. 27 council meeting) audio closely, you will hear that the motion was merely to have the engineer give a report – not to take any action on the issue,” Woods wrote in an email to Crosby. “The charter calls for a specific vote and approval by the majority of the members at the meeting to bring the matter back on an agenda.  Since that vote would be (required) to be performed as new business; that is not what happened at the last meeting.”

Crosby told Woods he believed the city attorney had already advised the city the item could be addressed but that he would readdress Woods’ specific concerns with the attorney.

11 local businesses honored with ‘Certified Healthy’ status

In the first year of promoting the Certified Healthy Oklahoma program in Piedmont, 11 area businesses and organizations earned certification for taking steps to promote healthy living.

During an awards lunch Thursday, the Piedmont business, along with 490 schools, businesses and communities from across the state, were honored for meeting “Certified Healthy” status. Those honored from Piedmont were the City of Piedmont, Piedmont Library, F&M Bank, Stonebridge Cleaners, Williams Grocery, Oklahoma Temporary Services, Piedmont Chiropractic, Piedmont Chamber of Commerce, Darren Owens Insurance, Piedmont Nazarene Church and Easter Mechanics.

To be certified, businesses must meet specific criteria, which include offering employee health screenings, workplace health and nutrition education, opportunities for physical exercise, management support for healthy workplace environments, tobacco prevention activities, and sharing wellness activities in the community. Parks and Recreation Director Lyn Land began promoting the program last year and provided local businesses with checks lists and resources for earning certification status.
“Having worked at the health department, I have heard all of the bad health statistics for Oklahoma,” Land said. “I think it’s easy for communities like us to think we are different, but we are not.”

According to the state health department, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom nationally when it comes to infant mortality rates, tobacco use and cardiac disease. The Certified Healthy Oklahoma initiative began in 2003 and is a joint effort by the health department, state chamber and the Oklahoma Turning Point Council.

During Thursday’s awards lunch, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Terry Cline praised those businesses that had earned certification status and said they were helping move the state in the right direction when it comes to health and wellness.

“These businesses are making healthy choices easy choices, as well as the right choice,” Cline said.

Gov. Mary Fallin also addressed the crowd and said her administration is taking steps to improve the health of Oklahomans, including the announcement that the State Capitol’s smoking room will be converted into a fitness facility.
In addition to certification status available to businesses, entire communities can earn certification with enough points added up by local businesses. Cities like Yukon, Enid and Guymon earned community certification status and Piedmont came just six points shy of joining that group. Land is hoping Piedmont can make the cut next year with even more businesses joining in. She plans to issue resources and packets with certification information before the November deadline.

“I’ve known about this for program for a while and thought it was something Piedmont could do,” Land said. “My hope is that our local involvement continues to grow.”

Here is a copy of the Certified Healthy packet for local businesses to read about participating in the program next year:

CertifiedHealthyBusiness packet

Property taxes could be raised in judgement against city

Williams Foods owner Jeff Williams says the city council is leaving him no choice but to seek legal action that could increase property taxes in the event of him winning a lawsuit. Williams is correct that increases in property taxes for city residents could be an outcome of the city losing a judgment, but using such a mechanism has been a rare occurrence in Canadian County.

“It’s called a court ordered judgment sinking fund,” said Canadian County Assessor Matt Wehmuller. “In the event that a (lawsuit) goes against the city it can result in millage rate increases.”

State statutes (Title 62, Chapter 2) address judgments against municipalities and allow for “levies to pay such judgments,” but the use of court ordered judgment sinking fund has been rare, especially in Canadian County. Carolyn Leck has been Canadian County treasurer for 17 years and said she has never seen a judgment sinking fund used during her time in office. To her knowledge, the last time it was used was in a case against Union City and the Union City school district, but that was before she became treasurer.

“A judge can determine that an indebtedness against the city that requires payment be paid through a city’s millage rates,” Leck said. “In that case the millage rates within the city would increase for a certain amount of time to pay back the amount. But it appears to be very uncommon.”

The Piedmont city council voted 3-2 Monday to have a county judge determine the exact amount owed by the city to Williams and how the money is to be paid. A contracted signed in August 2010 provides that the city is to pay Williams $1.9 million, which was estimated to be half of the cost to construct the Piedmont store, but a judge ruled last year that the council did not have enough votes to issue bonds. Since then the city has been locked in a debate with Williams over how much to pay and how to pay. A recently submitted proposal involved paying the store through the collection of sales tax, plus 5.5 percent interest, but three members of the council said they were against paying interest.

Williams said he is concerned the delay to pay him is a political tactic and believes those against his store want him to be the “bad guy” by filing a lawsuit against the city.

“I am more than willing to work with the council on this,” Williams said. “I want to find a solution that works for both sides, but they won’t work with me and I have to take action if they won’t honor the contract.”

Following Monday’s council meeting Williams implied that he would have no choice but to seek legal action and said him winning a lawsuit against the city could raise property taxes, which he believes some on the council want because that would free up all of his store’s sales tax to be used by the city. However, City Manager Jim Crosby said he does not believe property taxes would be impacted by a judgment against the city.

“I think the likely judgment would be that we owe Mr. Williams some money,” Crosby said. “But I don’t believe it would be levied against property taxes…we would pay it through sales tax collected at (the store).”

Crosby, who has a long career in city administration, said he has also rarely seen property taxes used to pay off a lawsuit against the city. Williams agrees it’s been a unique occurrence, but he also believes the situation involving his contract with the city is very unique.

“If the problem was on my end then why am I not having any problems with my other contracts in two other cities?” Williams said. “It’s very rare for a contract like this to be challenged because it’s a simple contract. But this is very simple and could be done today if they were willing to work with me and come to an agreement that works for both sides.”

Piedmont girls open season with route of Harding


 

Piedmont’s game plan Thursday night was to attack early and often, a strategy that paid off in the Lady Wildcats’ 7-0 route of Harding Charter Prep in the season opening game.

“I feel we have a good bunch of individuals, talent wise, and there is no reasons why we shouldn’t attack,” Coach Jamie Hutchison said. “I feel attack is the best form of defense sometime.”

The game’s first goal came 12 minutes in after Brenna Nixon outran her defender up the left sideline before cutting in front of the goal and sending a shot that bounced off the goalkeeper’s hands.

Piedmont didn’t let the early goal soften its attack as the Lady Wildcats took any shot they could find. Nixon nearly missed another goal moments later with a 40-foot shot that hit the top crossbar before Sydney Campbell took an even further distanced shot that arched perfectly over the head of Harding’s goalie who was playing up the field. Campbell ended the game with three goals, Nixon scored two and Jordan Hendren scored two goals, both of which were off passes from Nixon.

Ashley Garver congratulates Kelsey Meier as she runs off the field at halftime during Thursday's 7-0 win over Harding Charter Prep. (Ben Felder)

Piedmont led 5-0 at halftime but Hutchison wanted his team to keep up its intensity and to use the game as a chance to build as much momentum as possible headed into a long season.

“I think there was a time in the second half, probably for 15 to 20 minutes, where we didn’t play as we did in the first and what got us into that comfortable position,” Hutchison said. “I don’t want us to get into bad habits, no matter what the score is.”

Hutchison, who is in his first year as Piedmont’s head coach, said he has seen enough in preseason scrimmages and in Thursday’s game to believe his team has a chance to be successful. There is still a long way to go this season and Piedmont will face tougher competition, but after the first match the head coach said he was “quietly very confident” and wondered with a sly smile if his team has what it takes to “go all the way.”

Check back with PiedmontToday.com for boys highlights.

Students make final preparations for DUCK Week

Alissa Antwine leads a group of Piedmont High School students in making final preparations for the start of DUCK Week. (Ben Felder)

DUCK Week, which stands for Doing Unselfish Charities for Kids, has grown into a community-wide fundraising event that features a week full of student activities, community events and contributions made by area business to benefit a special cause in Piedmont.

This year’s event is raising money for Trevor Ethridge, 5, who is currently dealing with complications following a kidney transplant. For the past several weeks student leaders have been planning and organizing events and fundraisers to raise money for Ethridge.

“We do a lot of stuff before the week because it’s become such a big deal,” said Bailey Burgess, who is one of the student leaders for DUCK Week. “It’s a lot of preparation, it’s not just one week.”

Beginning March 9 the students will host a variety of events, ranging from a talent show, dodge ball tournament, a dinner and silent auction. During the week several local businesses and restaurants will also be hosting DUCK Week nights where part of the evening’s proceeds will go to the fundraiser.

The students have also been selling t-shirts and other DUCK Week items, such as socks with Superman capes on them to go along with this year’s superhero theme.

“Everyone gets involved and everyone donates their time and their money,” Carsen Young said. “It’s really cool to see.”

Planning for DUCK Week began last year with the selection of a theme. Over the last few weeks the behind the scenes work has increased and students and faculty sponsors are spending time before and after school and on the weekends getting ready for the big week.

“There are a lot of fun events for students, but there is also a lot of fun activities that you can do with your family,” Bryce Ewy said.

Alissa Antwine, along with Kathy Davis, are the primary faculty advisors for DUCK Week and Antwine said the best part, besides raising money for a worthy cause, is seeing the impact the week has on the students.

“We’ve worked so hard,” Antwine said. “My favorite part is just hearing the stories and seeing what the kids do (during DUCK Week). At first they get excited about playing the games and planning, but then you see the impact of what this had on the kids. Just seeing what they do is great, but seeing that emotion is the best part for me.”

For the past several years the event has raised over $100,000 and students say the goal each year is to raise more money than the last.

“I honestly think we are going to go bigger than we have before and raise more money than we have before,” Burgess said. “It’s been a lot of months of hard work but it’s going to be worth it.”

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