County schools get ready for new school year

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

County schools are gearing up this week for the start of a new school year next week with most schools reporting a positive outlook for the 2015-2016 school year.

Music Returns To Stratford

The first day of school in Stratford will be Thursday, August 13 and elementary students and teachers will be using the school’s new classrooms/safe rooms for the first time, according to Superintendent of Schools Michael Blackburn.

The rooms were part of a bond issue school patrons passed two years ago.

Last spring, Stratford Elementary was awarded a $65,000 technology grant by the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust for the purchase of i-Pads, cases and storage units.

The i-Pads will cost $40,000 and will be divided among all elementary teachers for use in their classrooms.

“The remaining $25,000 will be used for professional development in training teacher how to be use their new technology,” Blackburn added.

Along with the new technology, music classes for all students will be revived in Stratford schools this year. The new music teacher is Catie Caton.

Stratford will also be welcoming a new counselor to the high school campus this year.

“Kelly Hooper will be engaged in helping students with their schedules and assisting high school and middle school staff during the year,” Blackburn said.

There will be PIE Night (Parents Involved in Education) on Thursday, August 20, from 6-8 p.m. at the Stratford High School.

Commonly known as “Meet the Teach” Night, school patrons will be able to meet the teachers and have any questions answered by the teachers and administration.

“We are excited about the 2015-2016 school year and we look forward to great accomplishments by our students,” Blackburn added.

New Faces In Maysville

Maysville Public Schools will be starting on Thursday, August 13, with several new faces greeting students for the new school year.

The summer started off with the hiring of new coaches for basketball, softball and baseball.

Also, the elementary school has a new principal, Mr. John Edwards.

“Under his leadership, the FFA program flourished; therefore, having him step up as principal is exciting,” said Superintendent of Schools Shelly Hildebrand-Beach.

Beach said Edwards has been busy familiarizing himself with the school, staff and academic programs provided to the students.

Beach said there were some limited changes to the elementary student handbook for this year, but in the high school there were a couple of notable changes.

E-vapor cigarette use on campus and Nike Pro style shorts are prohibited, she said.

“All attire must reach at least mid-thigh,” she added.

Financially, the district is looking good, Beach added.

“The district ended the last fiscal year $244,000 ahead.  It has been over a decade since the district has seen a carry-over of this amount,” she said.

“We’re very appreciative of the continued support provided by the parents, patrons and community businesses.”

Elmore City-Pernell 

Excited

In Elmore City, the EC-P School District will start a new school year in anticipation of the next school year as work has begun on the new middle school.

Last August school patrons passed a bond issue to build the new middle school and work has begun on the project.

“It should be ready for the 2016-2017 school year,” said Donny Darrow, Superintendent of Schools.

The new building will have seven classrooms, a computer lab, a student center and a band/safe room.

The new building will accommodate all students in grades 6-8.

“After completion of this building project, all of the building sites in the district will have a safe room for students to seek shelter during inclement weather,” Darrow added.

The sound of construction will also be evident at the EC-P Elementary School as the EC-P School Board just approved a new roof for the elementary school.

Also, this past summer the First Baptist Church in Elmore City donated their activity bus to the school district.

The bus is in pristine condition with only 16,000 miles.

“Currently the bus is being repainted with the school’s colors as well as the badger mascot being painted on the bus,” Darrow said.

The bus will hold 44 students/athletes with storage.

The Badger Band is currently raising funds for new uniforms and raised over $9,000 for the project this past summer at fundraiser held at Panther Creek, which is located west of Elmore City.

Toy Museum seeks tourism funds

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

The Pauls Valley Tourism Board sent the Toy and Action Figure Museum back to the drawing board Monday night after the museum sought funding from the board for monthly operational funds in the wake of curator Kevin Stark’s departure.

Stark recently announced he is leaving the museum, but keeping his collection of action figures on loan to the museum.

With his departure, the museum board of directors will need to fill a financial void as Stark often donated his artistic services to the museum.

“We’re going to have to pay someone now to build our ads, design our billboards and produce other materials that Kevin did for free,” Museum Board President Brandon Rolan told the tourism board Tuesday night.

The museum board was seeking a monthly stipend in the amount of $6,802 from the tourism board to aid the museum with some operational funds so the museum can make the transition once Stark leaves in October.

The funding request brought out a lengthy discussion from both parties concerning items the museum board would like help with and the future of the museum.

The museum board was seeking funding for such items as office supplies, utilities, gift shop merchandise and future acquisitions for the museum.

“I really have a problem with us providing money for gift shop merchandise,” said Tourism Board member Randy McGee.

Rolan responded by stating he felt the gift shop merchandise was a business investment and the city would reap the benefits from the sales taxes generated by the sale of items in the gift shop.

“Still,” McGee said, “I don’t think the tourism board should be in the business of buying merchandise for businesses.

“Suppose the shoe store down the street came to us and said ‘We want you to buy us some shoes to sell.’ I just don’t think that would be right.”

Tourism board members questioned why the museum wasn’t asking for help with advertising and promotion of the museum.

“We believe if we get help in these other areas we can handle that part of our budget ourselves,” Rolan told the tourism board.

McGee, who did most of the talking for the board, praised the museum for being a unique attraction for Pauls Valley.

“I was in there today looking at your guest book. You had around 40 people in there today and all of them were from out of state. To have that many people in one establishment on a Tuesday is amazing,” he said.

McGee questioned the museum’s $7,500 request for future acquisitions to be displayed at the museum, stating he felt the number was too low.

During the discussion, Rolan admitted the museum was hurting financially at the moment and was asked what would happen to the museum if it didn’t get any funding from the tourism board.

“I would have serious doubts we would still be open by the end of the year,” Rolan said.

After more discussion on the funding request, the tourism board voted to table the item and give the museum board more time to refine their request.

The tourism board said they would reconsider the request next month once the museum board provided a more detailed request along with financial statements.

“I don’t know where anyone thinks we don’t support the museum,” McGee said, referring to some e-mails various people had sent the tourism board prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.

“But the board has given thousands of dollars to the museum over the years and we want to see you thrive.”

In other business:

•Board members were introduced to the new Tourism Director, Jason Selman, who will be taking over for Erin Creach, who is leaving the city for another position.

Selman was hired as Tourism Director last week and his first day on the job was Monday.

Selman is also the manager of the PV Golf Course and will be fulfilling both roles for a while, according to City Manager James Frizell.

•Board members denied a request from the Pauls Valley Golf Course for a 2-man Scramble. The request was for $2,500.

Carnival bringing fun and more library funds; Wiley Post adds a parade

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

Every year the end of summer is signaled by the arrival of the traveling carnival.

This year is no exception, but some people might not know that a portion of the proceeds raised by the globetrotters is donated to the Maysville Public Library.

“We always get an envelope full of money when it’s over and money is always good,” said Janet Dinwiddie, Town Liberian.

This year the carnival will be open Thursday, August 6 through Sunday, August, 9 beginning in the early evening to around 10:00 p.m. offering midway games, rides, and small variety of carnival food.

Individual tickets are available for rides and games as well as armbands for unlimited rides.

As the carnival is busy setting up, Dinwiddie and the Library Board are still hard at work planning the Wiley Post festival, set for Saturday, August 29.

In addition to the Wiley Post Royalty Contest, a fundraising event for the library, there will be also be a parade added to this year’s festival.

“I think it would be a fun way for businesses to promote themselves and show support for the town,” said Dinwiddie.

Rather than travel down Williams Street and disrupt the festival, the parade will make its way down Main Street.

Anyone is eligible to enter and there is no fee for entry.

The princess and queen and contestants will also be participating in the parade and are currently hard at work selling tickets to be Wiley Post royalty.

For more information on participating in the parade or how to get hold of princess and queen contestants to purchase tickets, contact Dinwiddie at the Maysville Library.

Firefighter’s tax making an impact on insurance rates

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

The firefighter’s sales tax passed three years ago has already begun to pay dividends to county residents, as several towns’ ISO ratings have been lowered thanks to firefighting equipment purchased by various county fire departments.

The ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating determines how much insurance companies will charge a specific community for property insurance based on the rating the fire department receives.

“We’ve been seeing the ISO rating for each town in Garvin County go down in the three years we’ve been collecting the (firefighter’s) sales tax,” said Garvin County Emergency Management Director Bud Ramming.

“We really didn’t think we’d see any drop in the ratings until the five year mark. So, we’re running ahead of schedule,” he added.

County fire departments have already spent thousands of dollars on new equipment and facility upgrades that have made a positive impact on each community’s ISO rating.

Just this past Monday, August 3, the Garvin County Commissioners approved two new purchases for the Rush Creek and Paoli Fire Departments.

Rush Creek accepted a bid for a Wildland Brush/First Attack Fire Truck, which is a mini pumper truck to be used on structure and grass fires.

The bid was for $153,707.

The Paoli Fire Department is currently upgrading their fire station to include all LED lights and the purchase of a small ice machine to provide ice for the firefighters when they go out on fires.

PV Chamber hosting ‘Town Hall Update’ and much more

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

The Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce is proud to have one of the more active legislative groups amongst other Chambers and it is with that pride that the Chamber will be hosting U.S. Congressman Tom Cole Wednesday, August 12 for a “Town Hall Update” from 9:30 – 10:30 inside the Chamber office.

“He will being giving a little update on things that have been going on and taking a few questions as well, as time allows,” said Kristen Bolte, Executive Assistant at the Pauls Valley Chamber.

Cole will also be taking a tour of the new Samaritans facility while he is in the Pauls Valley area.

Another government geared event coming up for the Chamber is their Legislative Lunch, which will be taking place Thursday, September 10, beginning at 11:00 a.m. inside the Reynolds Recreational Center.

The free event will feature speakers with government associations, who will be announced at a later date.

Though the event is free, a RSVP is required to attend.

To RSVP, contact the Chamber office directly or go to the Chamber website and click the available link.

Other upcoming news and events from the Pauls Valley Chamber include:

•The August Chamber meeting will take place Tuesday, August 18, at noon and will feature the Pauls Valley Wellness Alliance as the speaker.

•The September Chamber meeting will take place Tuesday, September 15, with Mike Martin, the new Pauls Valley Superintendent scheduled to speak.

•The yearly Job Connection event will be taking place Tuesday, October 6.

Registration has already begun for interested employers and through September 6 the cost for a booth is $50.00. After that the cost goes up to $75.00 through October 2, the last day to register.

Forms can be picked up from the Chamber office or from Workforce.

•Work has already begun on the 2016 Chamber Guide and Directory. Those interested in having events placed in the directory or placing ads should contact the Chamber for details.

Elmore City workers putting brush aside

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

As of late, workers in Elmore City have been spending a substantial amount of time, anywhere from three to five days a month, picking up and disposing of brush and tree limbs piled at the edge of the street. That number had been twice a year.

“We spend a lot of time on brush and it is limiting us from doing other things,” said Water Superintendent Paul Martin at the regular city council meeting Tuesday, August 4.

These courtesy pick-ups of brush are taking city employees away from other projects, like getting the new water plant up and running and fixing minor leaks.

Martin and the rest of his crew have continued to pick up the brush and limbs simply because it is unsightly and the torrential rains earlier this season have left some with messes that still need cleaning, but while the employees are willing to help, it is time to put the responsibility back in the hands of the property owners.

“Doesn’t this fall under the ordinance that they must keep up their own land and area?” asked Martin.

City Clerk Pam Helvey informed him that it in fact, did.

The City does provide an area for citizens to dump brush and limbs for removal purposes and asks that citizens take advantage of this and not pile debris at the curb for pick up.

The City also plans on putting together a newsletter to update citizens on ordinance changes and other important or useful information.

Stratford Town Board moving forward

By Cortney Hatton

News Star Reporter

The Stratford Town Board has moved forward from what was once in extreme disarray, and are now beginning to discuss new issues concerning town organization.

Though there was much discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting, many items on the agenda were tabled until the next meeting.

Items tabled included a town surplus auction, as the Board requires a full detailed list of every item to be auctioned off prior to declaring a date for the auction itself. They hope to have a detailed list at the August meeting.

Also on the agenda was the discussion of a new computer system for Stratford EMS. The EMS employees have been updating the current computer to fit their needs for the past few years, and the Board has decided that purchasing a new one would best fit their needs and be cheaper in the long run.

However, due to lack of information given at the meeting, this item was tabled for further discussion at a later date.

The Stratford Town Board had a lengthy discussion on the possibility of revamping a town ordinance concerning building and repair permit fees.

Board members debated the pros and cons of altering the ordinance, and in the end, under the advisement of the new Town Attorney Phillip Morton, will be discussing the ordinance item by item in another meeting at a later date.

The next Town Board meeting will take place at Oklahoma Heritage Bank on August 11.

Funflicks to hit EC Fall Fest

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

The Elmore City Chamber of Commerce plans on changing up their Saturday, October 24 Fall Fest activities this year, with the addition of a free outdoor movie for community members to enjoy.

Cities like Oklahoma City and Norman do activities like this during the summer, but the Chamber decided to do it in the cooler month of October for multiple reasons.

“It’ll be a lot cooler and it will get dark earlier,” said Skeet Luster, Chamber member.

Chamber Vice President Jasmine Tadlock has collected $200 in donations for the event, which they plan to hold on the practice football field, and the Chamber will be chipping in the rest of the balance for the 18 foot screen, though Tadlock has bigger dreams for the event.

“If I get more donations, can I have permission to rent the 25 foot screen? Only if I get the donations,” said Tadlock to the amused group.

If all goes as planned, the Chamber hopes to have a concession stand and hopes that many citizens come out with their chairs and blankets to enjoy the community event.

“We just want to do something fun for the community and if it’s a hit, let’s have some more fun,” said Tadlock.

If the Funflicks movie goes well, the Chamber may expand on it in the future.

The company that is being used will reschedule for bad weather.

In addition to the free outdoor movie, the Chamber will still be doing bingo in the community building as they have in previous years.

The Chamber is also revisiting an idea they had discussed a couple years ago; new “Welcome to Elmore City” signs in all directions.

“We have the okay from all the landowners. We just need someone to build them and prices for the city council,” said Tom Luster.

Construction would be simple with bricks around the bottom and metal signs.

The Chamber plans to follow up next month with ideas and pricing, suggesting that members take pictures of signs they like to help the brainstorming process.

“I had a truck driver come into the store the other day and he said ‘I’m looking for Elmore City, but all I see is Lusters’,” laughed Skeet, emphasizing the need for new welcome signs for the community.

The next meeting of the Elmore City Chamber of Commerce will be held Monday, August 17, at noon inside the community building.

Arnold to join Maysville High staff

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

Paul Arnold, a long-time Maysville resident, is coming out of retirement to become a Warrior once again as he joins the Maysville district, this time as a teacher rather than a student.

“He’ll be teaching a little bit of everything,” joked Superintendent Dr. Shelly Hildebrand-Beach.

Arnold, who retired from Lexington schools five years ago, will be teaching math and science courses to the students of Maysville High School.

While a teacher has been found for that position, Maysville’s Headstart program is in need of a certified teacher, as the Maysville School Board has approved the programs contract for the 2015-2016 school year, but still lack a teacher.

“They are looking for a certified teacher and if they can’t find one, we have been in contact with the state department. We are looking at alternatives to make sure that the program continues,” said Dr. Hildebrand – Beach.

Also, at the regular Monday, July 13 meeting of the Maysville Board of Education, four bids were open for new buses for the district, with a bid from Ross, out of Oklahoma City, being the winning bid.

The buses should arrive sometime in July and be set to go in time for the new school year.

“I’m so appreciative of the support the community gave when it came to student safety,” said Dr. Hildebrand – Beach on the passage of the $175,000 transportation bond that is allowing for the purchasing of the new vehicles.

Other news from the school board meeting includes:

Roofs across the district are in the process of being replaced with insurance money. The Ag barn has recently received its new roof and the metal for the high school roof will be delivered soon.

The band received the gracious donation of a trailer for their instruments from Daniel Beck.

A change made to the elementary school handbook clarifies the fact that students must meet all AR goals on time in order to participate in extracurricular activities.

Dress code changes have been made to the high school handbook, with Nike Pro shorts no longer being allowed and exposed sports bras are also not allowed.

All shorts and skirts must reach mid-thigh to be considered appropriate.

Path to new EC fire station set ablaze

By Bonnie Seymour

News Star Reporter

Elmore City Fire Chief Eddie Stewart has been dreaming of a new fire station for the town he loves for some time now, but one roadblock has been standing in his way; the land to build it on.

At the regular meeting of the Elmore City Council held Tuesday, July 7, the Council decided that the City would purchase the land for the new station that would be built with county tax dollars.

“This is the only step I can’t cover in the path to a new fire station,” Stewart explained to the Council before they voted “yes” on the matter.

Stewart explained that according to the district attorney, due to situation that occurred in Cleveland County, county tax dollars could not be used to purchase land, but could be used to build the station its self.

“The land has to be owned, free and clear,” said Stewart.

The Council was also informed that the new fire truck that would soon be making its way to Elmore City may very well not fit in the current fire station.

The land that Stewart and the Council are hoping to purchase for the new digs will cost $62,500, which the City does have on hand according to City Clerk Pam Helvey.

“The spot is ideal and has highway access. It’s a lot of money but the town needs it,” said Councilman Derrick Tadlock.

“People love to see a big, nice fire station when they are rolling into town,” added Councilman Tim Clark.

Randal McFadden simply said, “Go for it.”

The purchase of the land is still up in the air as there are three owners of the property and all owners must be on board with the sale.

At the Public Water Works meeting, J.R. McCaskill informed the Council that the USDA is ready to start searching for grant/loan packages for the future replacement of the City’s long ailing water lines and needed the Council to come up with a loose estimate of what they would like to spend on the future project.

“This is not set in stone. They just need an idea so they know what to look for,” said McCaskill.

The Council decided, under advisement of McCaskill, who has been working as a grant consultant for the City, that a $2 million loan/grant combination would be best, getting the job done all in one go, which would make the monthly payment for the City around $3,800 a month.

As for the monthly payment the City will have to make, the Council is already tossing around ideas as to how they can cover the cost without having to harm the City’s finances, like the possibility of raising water rates or a tax increase.

“People will scream and holler, but they complain about the taste of the water and dirt being in the water. They are just going to have to bite the bullet,” said Councilman Jim Tadlock.

McCaskill is a fan of the sales tax idea, as it will go to a vote of the people and will also end up not being paid exclusively by Elmore City residents.

“Anyone who spends money in the town would be contributing,” explained McCaskill.

The line project won’t begin in the near future, as it will take the USDA anywhere from 18 – 36 months to find the funding.

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