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Top Stories

Piedmont girls beat Tahlequah for Bethany Classic title

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

BETHANY – Piedmont didn’t make a singular play down the stretch of Monday night’s Bethany Classic girls championship game to beat Tahlequah.

Blake Colston/Gazette Taylor Clowers of Piedmont, left, tries to drive around Tahlequah's Alyson Hart Monday night in Bethany.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Taylor Clowers of Piedmont, left, tries to drive around Tahlequah’s Alyson Hart Monday night in Bethany.

The Lady Wildcats made them all.

Hannah Reasoner put home a layup off a steal with less than 15 seconds to play to take away Tahlequah’s last chance to tie the game and sealed a 12-2 run down the stretch in No. 5 Piedmont’s 49-45 win.

“It really boiled down to the girls stepping up,” head coach Jordan Stark said. “They did a really good job of sticking to the gameplan.”

Maci Attalla led Piedmont with 17 points and McKenna Kirkpatrick added 11 as the Lady Wildcats improved to 8-1 while taking home the title. Attalla was Piedmont’s go-to weapon in the paint, especially in the first half when she scored 13 points.

“Maci did a great job. I don’t even know if she can play that well again, but I hope she can,” Stark said. “She did this a little bit last year. She was timid and apprehensive to start then all of a sudden something clicks and she goes beast mode and nothing can stop her. She’s one of the strongest girls on the team.”

Attalla said she had a feeling it was going to be a good night when she made her first basket and was sure it was when she lost control of a shot along the baseline that slipped out of her hand and banked in from a difficult angle during the third quarter.

“I’m not really sure how that went it, but I meant to do that,” she said sarcastically. Read more →

Piedmont wins at No. 7 Carl Albert

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

MIDWEST CITY – This time it was different.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont's Kish Chandler drives to the basket Tuesday night in the Wildcats' win over Carl Albert.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont’s Kish Chandler drives to the basket Tuesday night in the Wildcats’ win over Carl Albert.

Piedmont made all the plays down the stretch and pulled away for a 66-52 win at seventh-ranked Carl Albert Tuesday night behind a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds from Maddie Sperle. The win helped PHS rebound from a home loss to fourth-ranked Shawnee in another early season Top 10 matchup.

The No. 8 Lady Wildcats improved to 3-1 overall and scored a major early season road victory against a traditional Class 5A power. They did it with execution down the stretch on both ends.

“They followed the gameplan, they ran the plays, they finished their shots and if they got fouled they made their free throws,” head coach Jordan Stark said. “That, to me, was the difference in the game.”

Piedmont led by nine at half, 31-22, but a quick spurt from Carl Albert led by a 3-point barrage from Charissa Price pulled the Titans even at 38 with 2:22 to play in the third quarter. The Lady Wildcats scored the final four points of the quarter capped by a Taylor Clowers hoop in the lane and never lost the lead again.

Mostly because Carl Albert never found a way to slow down Sperle. The SWOSU signee hit three 3-pointers, made 11 free throws – including five clutch makes in the final minutes – scored off the dribble and in the paint. Sperle and senior guard Hannah Reasoner each hit 3-pointers in a 14-5 Piedmont run that spanned from late in the third to early in the fourth.

“That’s the beauty of our team. We have girls that can pretty much do anything,” Stark said. “We’re extremely versatile and we want to use that to our advantage.”

Reasoner chipped in with 15 and Kish Chandler, Piedmont’s steady senior point guard, added 12. Price scored 15 for Carl Albert (4-3).

After Piedmont’s 44-40 home loss to No. 4 Shawnee, in which PHS didn’t make the plays when it counted, Stark was pleased to see her team’s turnaround in the fourth quarter Tuesday.

“I think the weaknesses we showed against Shawnee, we overcame those tonight,” Stark said.

Boys
Carl Albert 81, Piedmont 57

Piedmont hung with top-ranked Carl Albert for a half, trailing just 31-19 at the break, but the Titans pulled away in the second half to keep the Wildcats winless on the year.

Trey Hopkins scored 25 points for CAHS to lead all scorers. Mason Harrell added 21 for the Titans, who improved to 4-0 with the win.

Hunter Oden scored 11 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to pace Piedmont. Sophomore Rylan McDaniel had 10.

Piedmont trailed 22-7 after a quarter, but sliced into Carl Albert’s lead in the second period and was behind by only 12 at intermission. Carl Albert answered by outscoring Piedmont 30-11 to start the second half, though and led by as many as 33. PHS continued the back and forth by winning the fourth quarter, 27-21.

Piedmont wants to keep chip on its shoulder despite recent recognition

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen’s phone was busy this weekend.

Photo by Hugh Scott Piedmont's Parker Smith tries to break around the edge as Guthrie's Gavin Brison closes in last Friday.

Photo by Hugh Scott
Piedmont’s Parker Smith tries to break around the edge as Guthrie’s Gavin Brison closes in last Friday.

Congratulatory calls, texts and emails poured in following Piedmont’s 22-14 victory over Guthrie that secured a playoff berth for the first time since 2011 and kept the Wildcats in the conversation for a district title. Piedmont even made its first appearance in various Class 5A Top 10 rankings for the first time all season after the win.

“Our kids are gaining a ton of respect and we feel pretty good about that,” Gossen said. “People are noticing what we’re doing.”

But part of the key to Piedmont’s five-game winning streak has been its under-the-radar trajectory, a perceived lack of respect and the figurative chip on the shoulder that helped create. So heading into a matchup with third-ranked Carl Albert (7-1, 4-1) tonight at 7 in Midwest City, will Piedmont (6-2, 5-0) be able to keep the same mentality?

“It’d be hard to feel like anyone is going to have us over anyone that we play from here on out,” Gossen said. Piedmont hosts No. 2 Bishop McGuinness after Carl Albert. “To have the feeling that we’re still not respected, I have a feeling we’re still going to get that same look. Our kids know that even though we continue to win, people are still going to pick against us.”

Even Gossen admits those same people might have good reason to side the Titans, who’s only loss came to McGuinness.

“What doesn’t,” he said when asked about what stands out about the Titans team. “They’re excellent. There’s not a weak link and I think that’s probably the biggest thing that stands out. Their quarterback is a great player, they’ve got receivers that can run and their running back is the best we’ve seen.”

Defensively, Gossen said Carl Albert is athletic in the secondary, disciplined at linebacker and big and quick along the front. That’s not all, though. Read more →

BBQ fundraiser for Ian Mitchell set for Thursday night

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Thursday evening, a charitable BBQ dinner, bake sale and raffle will take place from 6:00 to 8 p.m. at Piedmont High School to benefit the son of a popular Piedmont coach recently injured in a go-kart accident.Ian Mitchell BBQ

Piedmont High School assistant wrestling, football and baseball coach Joe Mitchell’s son, Ian, 9, was seriously injured in an accident at his grandmother’s land July 21. when the gas pedal on the he driving kart got stuck, sending Mitchell accelerating into a barbed-wire fence.

The crash left Ian with ligament damage and a dissected carotid artery in his neck.

“The barbed wire caught him around the neck and ripped him from the kart,” his father Joe Mitchell told News9.com. “He tried to break, I saw it.”

While Ian is recovering steadily now, medical costs are adding up. That’s where the Piedmont community has stepped in.

An $8 donation gets you a BBQ dinner with all the proceeds raised set to go toward the Mitchell’s medical bills.

In addition to Thursday’s event, a Go Fund Me account was created by a family friend and has already raised more than $10,000. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/prayersforian

 

Newspaper contends school board improperly hired softball coach

Roger Pugh
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Piedmont Board of Education voted Monday to hire a new girls softball coach, but the  Piedmont-Surrey Gazette maintains the board did not follow proper legal procedures in making the hire.

Gazette editor Roger Pugh attempted to object when the motion was made and seconded at the board meeting to  accept all of the retirement, resignations, employment and reemployment listed on Attachment A to the board agenda. Included on that attachment were the names of all of the people resigning, retiring, being reemployed, and newly employed, except for one, the name of the teacher/softball coach the board wanted to hire.

As Pugh was attempting to explain his concerns and to ask the board a question about the procedure, board chairman  Stanley Nance cut him off.

“We are in the middle of vote here. That’s a personnel matter and you need to take that up with the superintendent,” Nance said.

Nance then conducted the vote, and the board unanimously approved the adoption of schedule A, which included the unnamed coach.

Pugh later said he was trying to advise the board that the hire was not proper because no one was named. He also said he was concerned that the executive session that was held previous to the employment vote might be illegal and if not, certainly violated the spirit of the law because the law says, among other things, a public board is to identify, who is being discussed in executive session. Read more →

Scott done in Piedmont

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

A turbulent season for Piedmont head softball coach Rick Scott is over and, apparently, so is his tenure in Piedmont.

Scott submitted his resignation to the Piedmont administration last week, he confirmed to The Gazette, but days later had a change of heart. The administration considered the matter closed, however.

“Coach Scott has resigned his softball duties and we have accepted his resignation,” Piedmont schools Superintendent James White told The Gazette Friday afternoon. “The process will start fairly soon on advertising the position and interviewing candidates to fill the position.”

It was clear, though, that Scott fully intended to return to coach next season. As recently as Thursday, he planned on doing so.

“I wasn’t allowed to pull my resignation,” Scott said. “I hate that it’s happened this way.”

Scott led Piedmont to 10 state tournaments in 14 seasons, but did so with controversy along the way, this season in particular. Scott was suspended for two games after an incident with fans at a game in El Reno this season.

White declined to elaborate on the reason’s for declining to acknowledge Scott’s apparent change of heart, choosing only to cite the decision as a personnel matter.

“We appreciate coach Scott’s effort and wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” he said.

Scott isn’t sure what’s next for him, he said, but hopes to coach somewhere next season.

“It’s been an honor and a privelage to work at Piedmont,” he said. “I’m not bitter at all. I’ll let what’s going to happen, happen. I’d like to thank all those who have supported me and the program throughout the years.”

Canadian County Commissioners rescind Feb. 10 special election

Roger Pugh
Publisher

Following a recent court ruling over funding for the Gary E. Miller Juvenile Justice Center, Canadian County Commissioners decided last week to rescind a special election they had set for Feb. 10 to change how a tax approved by voters in 1996 is appropriated.

The juvenile center was built and has since paid salaries and programs with funds from a 1996 .35 percent of once-cent sales tax approved by Canadian County voters in 1996.

However, a state attorney general’s opinion issued last fall said the center could not use that tax to pay salaries and programs.

Since that opinion came down, the commissioners stopped using the tax to fund the center and have funded it, for the most part, with the County Use Tax and with contracts the center has in force with the state.

Commissioners later came up with a proposal to appropriate 86 percent of the funds generated by the tax to the center, and use the other 14 percent of the tax for either the center or other county projects.

The commissioner had set the Feb. 10 special election to send the proposal to the voters for approval. Read more →

Commissioners split on plan to redirect portion of children’s center tax

By Traci Chapman

In a split vote, Canadian County Commissioners on Thursday authorized a formal resolution draft that would redirect a portion of sales tax historically allocated to the children’s justice center to other capital improvements.

District 2 Commissioner David Anderson made the motion, seconded by District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart, authorizing Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse to draft a resolution addressing the use of the .35 of one cent sales tax dedicated to the Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center since it was approved by voters in 1996. Anderson proposed 14 percent of that tax be used for “capital improvement needs of the county,” while 86 percent of it would continue to fund the center. The division would apply to both funds held in county sales tax accounts now, as well as those collected in the future.

District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart (Traci Chapman/Gazette)

District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson voted against the motion.

Carson suggested drafting a ballot that would give voters the choice to either simply amend language concerning the use of sales tax to include operations or divert some of the tax for capital improvements. Hesse discouraged that move, saying it would cause voters confusion. The commissioner also proposed that a portion of both sales tax currently held in reserves – anticipated by commissioners to reach about $7.2 million by the time residents vote on the matter in February – and future tax collections be split. Carson suggested 50 percent of the roughly $7.5 million be diverted to capital improvements, with another 50 percent of “unexpended funds that exist at the end of each fiscal year” also allocated to those improvements.

Anderson countered with a proposal which would also split the existing funds 50/50 between capital improvement fund and the children’s justice center, but that 80 percent of all unexpended sales tax, not to exceed 20 percent of the total collected in any one year, should be allocated to capital improvements, with 20 percent dedicated to the children’s justice center.

When Carson refused to vote in favor of the proposal, Anderson reverted to the 86/14 percent split, which he first proposed Monday.

Carson was not alone in his opposition to the resolution approved by Anderson and Stewart. Children’s justice center co-director Bill Alexander said he felt including the component of splitting the tax on a ballot necessary to keep the center open was unfair to voters, particularly in light of a 2011 election where voters rejected diversion of part of that tax to fund a county jail.

“I think there’s a real problem, it’s not fair to voters – you’re coercing the voters,” Alexander said. “You’re diverting taxes on something they voted ‘no’ on three years ago, and they have to vote for it to keep the center open.

“People want to save the children’s justice center but they don’t want diversion,” he said.

What that translates to for the children’s justice center is a decrease in funds immediately available for reserves, emergencies and carryover. For example, if the county collected $6 million in sales tax during the fiscal year and only utilized $4 million of that tax for its operations, $2 million would be split – with $280,000 of it going to county capital improvements and $1.72 million available to the children’s justice center for reserves, carryover and the like.

Of $7.2 million anticipated to be held in sales tax accounts by mid-February, $1.008 million would go to commissioners’ for capital improvement use, and $6.192 million would remain in children’s justice center coffers, if Anderson’s proposal is approved by voters.

Commissioners took the action after meeting more than seven hours this week on the issue. After first discussing the matter during their regular Monday meeting, they recessed and reconvened twice – on Tuesday and again Thursday – to come to a resolution. The sessions were necessary as the clock was ticking on a deadline of Dec. 10 to file ballot language with the Canadian County Election Board. Voters will consider the proposal in a Feb. 10 election.

The issue came to light Oct. 31, when the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office issued an Opinion stating the sales tax allocated to the children’s justice center and utilized for operations – including salaries, programs and all other expenses – could not be used for those purposes. According to that Opinion, only a very limited range of items, including construction and maintenance of the center’s buildings, could be funded by sales tax.

The Opinion was requested by Sen. Ron Justice, who did so at the behest of commissioners, Stewart told attendees of a Canadian County Republican Party meeting held last week to discuss the issue.

“When we were being audited, the questions came up about mingling funds between sales tax and contracts and also about how the sales tax was being used,” Stewart said. “We needed an answer about it.”

AG opinions must be requested by a member of the Oklahoma legislature.

In the wake of the Oct. 31 Opinion, officials scrambled to find a way to fund an $8.1 million children’s center budget without sales tax. The center has historically been funded by the tax, as well as state and county contracts, totaling about $2.5 million annually. Officials learned in July those revenues would be slashed by more than 50 percent due to state budget cuts. The center’s 2015 budget provided for $1.2 million in contract revenue.

After years of sales tax collection increases, the last two years have seen a dip on those revenues. Last year, sales tax was projected at $6.05 million; revenues actually came in at just over $5.584 million, according to county financial documents.

Hesse will now draft a formal resolution, which will be presented to commissioners for their formal approval during the regular Dec. 8 meeting.

Charter change prevails; Hader new District 1 Commissioner

Piedmont’s Charter change again passes with the voters, and Marc Hader is the new District 1 Canadian County Commissioner. See Thursday’s Gazette for full details.

Local developers sue City of Piedmont in Federal court

By Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

Local developers Cindy Boevers and Reta Strubhar have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District against the City of Piedmont, three councilmen and two planning commissioners. The defendants named in the lawsuit are the City of Piedmont, Piedmont city councilmen Donnie Robinson, Al Gleichmann and Charles Coffman, Piedmont planning commissioners Ron Cardwell and Eric Berger.

In the complaint filed last Friday, Strubhar and Boevers (“Developers”) say they have suffered damages resulting from the Piedmont city council not voting on an agenda item to approve a preliminary plat for “Magnolia Meadows,” a property owned by “Developers.” Read more →

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