New waterpark making a big splash

By Jeff Shultz


Lucas Jobe of Moore was visiting friends in Pauls Valley last Saturday, July 19, when he and his two brothers and sister decided to visit the new Pauls Valley Waterpark.

After hitting the water slides a few times, Jobe decided to take it easy on the park’s Lazy River feature.

“That was probably my favorite ride,” the 14-year old said. “I think I fell asleep one time.”

Jobe is just one of literally thousands who have found the new waterpark in PV a delight to visit and plans to come back if he can.

The Pauls Valley Waterpark is now halfway through its first full season of operations and, according to figures from the Reynolds Recreation Center and the City of Pauls Valley, the new waterpark is proving to be a big hit.

Since the park opened on May 24 – the first day of the Memorial Day weekend – to last Sunday, July 20, the waterpark has had 16,014 swimmers wade their way through the gates to enjoy the cool blue waters.

The park averaged 281 visitors a day during those 57 days, with the park’s busiest day coming on Saturday, July 12.

That was the hottest day of the summer, up to that point, with the Oklahoma Mesonet reporting a high of 95.

During the seven hours the pool was open that day, there were 700 visitors to the park.

“We really haven’t had any major problems,” said Aquatics Director Robert Rennie. “We’ve had a small leak, but that’s it.”

Along with the high attendance, comes a high revenue stream that is more than just a drop in the bucket.

Total gate revenue for the 57 days has been a little over $80,000, with the biggest chunk of that revenue (54 percent) coming from adult swimmers ages 15-61.

Add an estimated $16,000 more to that number from concession sales, and the Pauls Valley Waterpark is proving to be a huge tourist attraction for Pauls Valley.

Pauls Valley Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Samford said the park is getting swimmers from all over the region this year.

“We are seeing lots of swimmers from Ada and all over Garvin County,” she said.

Peach Festival perfection

By Cortney Hatton

News Star Reporter

This year’s Stratford Peach Festival was quite possibly the most attended festival to date.

You had all the ingredients for a perfect Peach Festival – plenty of peaches and great weather.

According to multiple reports, there were over 10,000 in attendance.

“I had several people, who had never been to the festival, ask me directions to the park,” said District 3 County Commissioner Johnny Mann.

Stratford Chamber of Commerce President Jason O’Neal believes the reason for the overwhelming jump in attendance this year, compared to last year, was due to the amount of attention put toward advertising and public relations with businesses around the area, as well as the astonishingly cool weather.

Normally the Peach Festival is greeted with near 100-degree heat each year but, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet, the Byars station near Stratford reported a high of 79 that day.

With over 110 vendors, including the brand new OG&E Thunder Trailer, a mechanical bull, homemade ice cream, a live black bear, 13 diverse food vendors and others peddling wares ranging from pocketknives to handmade goods, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

According to O’Neal, “There are vendors already reserving their spot for next year’s festival”.

With plans to build a new pavilion as well as a larger bathroom facility, O’Neal hopes to have an even greater turnout next year and is planning accordingly.

Walling to leave 911 post

By Jeff Shultz


The director for the County 911 System will be leaving his position next month to take a teaching job in Shawnee.

Doug Walling has been the 911 Center Director for the past three years and has seen the emergency call center through some major changes.

“When I came on board we weren’t a control dispatch center. Now we’re dispatching for Elmore City, Maysville, Paoli, Stratford, Wynnewood and several rural fire departments in the county,” Walling said.

Walling has accepted a high school history teaching position at Shawnee High School and will be leaving the call center on August 6.

The decision to take the teaching job was made after he and his family moved to Shawnee last year when his wife, Shelley, was hired as an 8th grade principal.

“That made for a long commute to Pauls Valley,” he said.

Walling left a similar teaching position in Lindsay to take on the Call Center Director job three years ago.

At that time Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes hired him as the Sheriff’s office had just taken over management of the call center.

“I would have to say that Doug has done a fantastic job in the three years he’s been with us,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said he has not made a decision yet on who will replace Walling, but would like to see the position filled from within the ranks of the sheriff’s office.

“I’d like to have someone who brought what Doug brought to the table three years ago,” Rhodes said.

Slam-dunk for Maysville youth

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

The regular meeting of the Maysville Board of Trustees held Monday, July 21, provided good news for area youth, as the town has decided to purchase and install two basketball hoops at the Town’s skate park.

“I think it would be giving the kids something to do, rather than going around and destroying things,” said the driving force behind the idea, Trustee Debra Degering.

The skate park was originally built with funds from donations, with the land still belonging to the Town.

Because of this, the goals will be installed, but will also maintain the integrity of the park, in case the park is added to in the future.

The Trustees decided to purchase goals made of galvanized steel, due to the sturdiness of the material, but when it came down to the vote, one Trustee didn’t believe the new addition to the town was a good idea.

“I guarantee that these kids are going to have these messed up in two weeks,” said Bryson Tate.

Other business from the meeting includes:

Nine town employees received raises after a freeze was put on raises at the beginning of this year. All of the raises will be retroactive to July 1, 2014.

Shelia Vestle was officially hired as office manager and was also appointed as an authorized purchasing agent for the Town and also an authorized OMRF agent.

The Town will be applying for a REAP grant for the purposes of upgrading the water plant. If granted, the Town could receive up to $150,000 for the project.

The Board was warned by Christy Harper of Public Finance Law Group in Oklahoma City that they would not receive a grant right away, as a budget for the project and a start date must be set in stone first.

Harper is helping the Town apply for a loan from the Federal Government for the same project. Harper believes that in thirty to forty-five days the Town should be able to submit a completed application for the loan.

Elementary Enrollment set for August 6

Enrollment will be held Monday, August 6th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 1:00 -3:00 p.m. in the Elementary Library. Children who will be four years of age on or before September 1, 2014 and did not enroll during the Spring enrollment need to enroll at this time.

Pre-Kindergarten students will be enrolled on a first-come, first-serve basis. There will be a limited number of slots available. All other children will be placed on a waiting list.

ALL students in grades 1st through 6th need to enroll for the 2014-2015 school year. Classes will be posted August 8 at 3:00 p.m. on the window by the west entrance.

“Meet the Teacher” will be held Tuesday, August 12, 3:00-6:00 p.m. This will be your opportunity to bring school supplies and meet your teacher.

First day of class will be Thursday, August 14. School begins at 8:00 a.m.

Paoli Public School welcomes students back

By David Morris

Paoli District Principal

We at Paoli Public School are extremely excited to be starting a new school year with you.  We are very pleased that our school has a well-earned reputation in our community to its commitment of fostering academic excellence while consistently focusing on creating positive social relationships.

At Paoli Public School, we are working together in creating a child-centered learning community that involves each and every adult who interacts within a child’s life.  Acting as our students’ advocates is a part we all play to ensure they reach their fullest potential.

The greatest gift that we can bestow upon the students is to create an outstanding school atmosphere that will leave an enduring impression on their educational lives.

It is from their first experiences of school that we will work together to foster a love of learning and the ability to build long-lasting social relationships.

On their paths to becoming lifelong learners, we will provide them with a remarkable series of experiences, so, that they too, can see just how important the role the adults in their lives play.

The skills that our children learn at Paoli will lead to future success at Paoli Public Schools and beyond.

The following are important dates for students, parents, and faculty:

Senior enrollment will be July 28th from 9:00 to 12:00.

Junior enrollment will be July 29th from 9:00 to 12:00.

Sophomore enrollment will be July 30th from 9:00 to 12:00.

Freshman enrollment will be July 31st from 9:00 to 12:00.

7th & 8th grades enrollment will be August 1st from 9:00 to 12:00.

Elementary enrollment will be August 5th from 9:00 to 2:00.

Open House for Paoli Elementary will be August 7th from 6:00 to 7:00.

Professional development for teachers is August 6th, 7th, and 8th 8:30 to 3:00.

School starts for students on August 13th.

Physicals for student athletes will be August 13th from 4:00 to 5:30.

In closing, we at Paoli Public Schools look forward in working with you and your child to create the best educational experience possible.

We believe that students can reach their potential when parents, teachers, students, and administrators work together.

The staff of Paoli School District looks forward to another year of providing an outstanding education to your child.

If you ever have any questions or concerns feel free to give us a call or stop by for a visit.

Working together we can provide the education your child deserves.

Elmore City Chamber to host Bingo Night

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

The Elmore City Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a family friendly Bingo Night Saturday, August 2, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Concessions will be provided by the high school cheerleaders and prizes will be given for each bingo.

Prices for Bingo cards are as follows:

1 card for $10.00

3 cards for $25.00

5 cards for $40.00

The event will take place at the Elmore City Community Center.

In other Chamber news, the debate on where to hold the Footloose Festival in coming years continues as Chamber members are still tossing around the idea of moving the festival to the lake area and away from downtown.

“The lake just has a better feel I think,” said Chamber Vice President Jasmine Tadlock.

Tadlock also pointed out that other festivals, like the Stratford Peach Festival and the Rush Spring Watermelon Festival are both held in more remote areas of those towns and still have experienced great success.

Kim Burrell, a business owner in the area thinks the move would be a bad idea.

“It would take away from the businesses in town. They wouldn’t get nearly as many visitors,” Burrell told the members present.

Other cons people opposed to the idea had, were the parking issues with the lake area and not having enough electricity for vendors in the area, which would mean more generators would be in use, though Chamber President Amy Shebester doesn’t see that as a problem.

“I don’t think we are required to provide them with electricity. I think the city did it as a courtesy ,” said Shebester.

Shebester contended that keeping the festival downtown would mean some of the issues that were experienced this year would also be experienced next year, such as people riding bikes down the sidewalks, causing a hazard, and trash and torn up property being a concern again, but no matter where the festival is held, one thing is certain for her.

“There are going to be little things we need to change to make it work anywhere,” she said.

The members also tossed around the idea of moving the concert to the lake and keeping the festival downtown, something that Ex-Chamber President Skeet Luster was in favor of.

“I just don’t think we have outgrown the downtown area yet,” said Luster.

The topic was tabled until next month’s meeting, where they will also conduct elections for Chamber Officers.

Peach Festival Ice Cream a tradition for one family

By Cortney Hatton

News Star Reporter

The Burnett Family has been treating Stratford Peach Festival patrons to homemade peach ice cream since 2005 and, according to Peach Festival Planning Committee member, Brooke Peden, “It’s the best in town.”

When they began, they were only making a little over 30-gallons, and soon realized that was not near enough to feed the thousands of Peach Festival attendees.

Approximately two weeks prior to the festival, Mrs. Burnett purchases the peaches she deems best for the family’s ice cream recipe.

For the past two years, the family has purchased their sweet fruit from Pullen Peach Farms, owned by Craig and Linda Pullen.

According to Burnett, last year was their biggest year as they made 48 gallons of their delicious homemade frozen treat.

However, they still sold out before 1:00 pm.

“This year, we have enough ingredients to make 56 gallons,” she proclaimed.

As this year’s Peach Festival was possibly the largest yet, and the Burnett Family was the only homemade ice cream vendor this year, all 56 gallons were sold by 2:00 p.m.

SonRise Farms brings in top peach basket

By Cortney Hatton

News Star Reporter

This year’s Peach and Peach Cook-Off judging took  a while longer than usual, as there were four judges, a large amount of peaches to taste and multiple desserts to sample.

Judging these tasty treats was Stratford’s own Jimmie Jarrell, Paul Savage and Lindsay Davidson. Also judging was Associate District Judge Steve Kendall.

Upon the tasting and the judging of the many different types of peaches from each of the five peach farms in the area, the top four baskets are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The money from this auction goes into the Peach Growers Scholarship Fund, which will go to one of Stratford’s brightest seniors.

In first place was the Bella Georgia Peach grown at SonRise Peach Farms owned by Bill and Rene Scott. This basket was sold to Oklahoma Heritage bank for $325.

The runner-up basket was the basket of Glow Havens grown at Peach Tree Farms owned by Susan Bergen, and was sold to Senator Susan Paddack for $300.

Pullen Peach Farms came in third with their basket of juicy red peaches. This basket was purchased in the amount of $275 from LifePoint Church.

The Peach Cookoff had an array of diverse peach desserts.

In the youth division, Reese Smith won first place with her Peachy-Liscious Perfect Peach Pie. Coming in at a close second was Holly Miller’s Peach Turnover.

The adult division was just as tasty, as Ashley Lawson came in first with a Vanilla Peach Coffee Cake.

Pam English won runner-up with Peach Dumplings, and Deborah Korzan won third place with the Peach Blossom.

The judges walked away with full stomachs and smiles on their faces.

Toy Museum celebrates the birth of Batman

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

In May of 1939, the number twenty-seven issue of Detective Comics hit the stands and with it came a new hero who became one of the most worshiped characters of all time; Batman.

The Toy and Action Figure couldn’t let the anniversary of the Caped Crusader pass without a celebration, so Saturday, July 26, the museum will be doing just that all day long.

“We will have refreshments while they last and we will also be giving away a Batman themed gift basket,” Jodi Wood, museum director, told the News Star.

The basket, which will also contain some Museum themed merchandise will be given away between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. the day of the event and participants must be present to win.

To add to the fun of the anniversary bash, anyone who comes dressed as a Batman character will get in free.

“Even if it’s a villain,” laughed Wood.

For more information on this event, museum hours, admission prices, and other information, call 405-238-6300.

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