County sales tax measure passes

By Jeff Shultz



Cheers could be heard in the halls of the Garvin County Courthouse Tuesday night as approximately 10-15 county firefighters gathered to hear the news the one-quarter cent sales tax to support the county’s depleted fire departments passed by an overwhelming margin.

“They’re all ecstatic here,” said Rush Creek Fire Chief Richard McCarty, trying to speak on the phone above the roar of cheering.

The Rush Creek Fire Department is one of 12 county fire departments that will benefit from the one-quarter cent sales tax earmarked specifically for firefighting in Garvin County.

According to unofficial results from the Garvin County Election Board, the measure was never in doubt as it passed with over a 70 percent of the county voters giving the sales tax proposition a nod of approval.

“We worked hard for this and I think it will be something that will have a positive impact for generations to come,” McCarty added.

Pernell Fire Chief Brent Balentine agreed with his fellow fire chief, noting he never doubted the measure would pass.

“I talked to a lot of people in this county and the largest majority of them said they were voting for it,” he said. “I never doubted for one minute it wouldn’t pass.”

“The residents of this county will be real proud of what we will be able to do with this money in the years to come,” Balentine said.

Both McCarty and Balentine thanked the voters who voted for the measure.

“I know I speak for the other fire chiefs in this county in saying ‘Thanks’ to everyone who voted for it,” Balentine said.

In other election news, Debbie Whitehead won her bid for a seat on the Lindsay City Council. Whitehead, who will fill Seat #1 on the council, received the most votes in Lindsay’s Municipal Election, taking in 312 votes or 22.94 percent of the ballots cast.

Jane Pool won the Seat #2 spot grabbing 19.19 percent of the ballots, or 261 votes.

Pearlee Adams took 187 votes, 13.75 percent, to win the third council seat up for grabs in Lindsay’s election.

Republicans in Garvin County voiced their choice for the GOP nominee, giving Rick Santorum 35.80 percent of the Republican votes cast in Tuesday’s Presidential Primary.

Santorum also took the state’s vote over Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Voters to go to the polls Tuesday

By Jeff Shultz

Voters in Garvin County will go to the polls Tuesday, March 6, to decide the fate of a number of ballot questions including a one-quarter cent sales tax question supporting all the fire departments in Garvin County.

Registered Republican voters in Garvin County will be choosing a candidate for the GOP Presidential race in Tuesday’s election.

On the ballot will be Republican hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.

Surprisingly, there will candidates for president on the Democratic ticket as well.

According to the Garvin County Election Board registered Democrats across the state will choose between Darcy G. Richardson, Randall Terry, Barack Obama, Jim Rogers and Bob Ely.

Voters in Lindsay will be choosing three new city council members on Tuesday in the only municipal election held in the county.

On the Lindsay City Council ballot are Eric Keeler, Michael Robinson, Brad Farley, Steve Abram, Pearlee Adams, Jane Pool, Joshua G. Miller, Willie C. Rushing, Jr. and Debbie Whitehead.

Also on Tuesday’s ballot will be the county wide question concerning a one-quarter cent sales tax for rural firefighting in Garvin County.

The proposed sales tax would generate an estimated $750,000 annually with 96 percent of the funds being divided equally among the 12 fire departments in the county.

The remaining four percent of the funds would go to the Garvin County Emergency Management for administrative costs.

According to Garvin County Election Board Secretary Cathy Brinley, early voting will begin Friday, March 2, with in-person absentee balloting at the Election Board Office inside the Garvin County Courthouse.

Early voting times for Tuesday’s election will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Monday, March 5. Voters can also cast ballots on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“A two-member, bipartisan Absentee Voting Board will be on duty each day to assist absentee voters,” Brinley said.

“In-person absentee voters fill out an application form when they get to the office.  They are not required to give a reason for voting absentee,” Brinley said. “They are required to swear that they have not voted a regular mail absentee ballot and that they will not vote at their polling places on Election Day.”

If you have any questions as to where to vote or any other inquiries concerning Tuesday’s election, contact the Garvin County Election Board at 405-238-3303.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

County firefighters banking on sales tax passage

By Susan Stone
News Star Reporter

This Tuesday, March 6, is a day that most of the rural fire departments in Garvin County are waiting for.

They are hoping and praying that the one-quarter cent sales tax voters are going to be voting on passes.

“I can’t think of a more visual testament of our tax dollars at work than to help maintain and update our fire departments around Garvin County,” said Stratford Fire Chief Sean Mann.

Much like other fire chiefs in the county, Mann and his department have had to deal with higher operational costs in order to protect the residents of the Stratford area.

“Our departments are very resourceful with the small budgets we operate on yearly and with the help from fund raisers, donations and our own sweat and blood we maintain the equipment the best we can,” he said.

Due to aging equipment combined with more fire calls and less money to operate on makes this sales tax very important to the citizens of Garvin County, Mann proclaimed.

“This money will only benefit the people of Garvin County.” Mann said

The proposed sales tax would generate approximately $750,000 annually with 96 percent of the funds being divided equally among the 12 fire departments in the county.

The remaining four percent of the funds would go to the Garvin County Emergency Management for administrative costs.

“No one is getting rich or looking for a bonus to be handed out.  This tax is only needed to improve our ability to serve the people, in most cases serving voluntary,” Mann continued.

Mayhan to start kids radio program

By Jeff Shultz

Steve Mayhan has been following Christ long enough to know when Christ speaks you better listen.

And when He tells you to do something you better do it.

“I was praying one morning at church and God laid it on my heart to do a radio program,” Mayhan said.

A licensed minister for 32-years, Mayhan figured God wanted him to use the air time to deliver the Gospel.

“But God told me He wanted me to do a children’s broadcast,” Mayhan added.

“Pastor Steve and God’s Little People” will air for the first time on Lindsay radio station KBLP, 105.1 FM, this Sunday morning from 9:30 to 9:45.

The show will feature area children’s choirs singing popular children’s Gospel songs, a lesson from Pastor Steve, including Mayhan answering various questions submitted by the children listeners.

“We’re going to really personalize it by wishing the kids a happy birthday or dedicating a song to a particular child or youth group,” Mayhan said, noting area pastors are supportive of him.

The first broadcast will feature Mayhan’s grandchildren singing some songs as well the Cottrell Mission Church kid’s choir in Stratford.

Mayhan also knows when God tells you to do something He’ll provide the means to complete His will.

“I was sharing this vision with John Ferris of Forum Energy in Elmore City and John told me he would pay for the air time,” Mayhan said.

Listeners can also access the radio broadcast via the Internet on KBLP’s web site,

Whitebead Bean and Tamale Supper slated for this Friday

By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter

Whitebead School is gearing up for its annual Bean and Tamale Supper, an event that has been financially helping the Whitebead School system for decades and gives the public a chance to show their support for the school.

The event will be held in the Whitebead Auditorium on Friday, March 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The supper is an annual fundraiser for the school and proceeds go to help the school with expenses throughout the year at the discretion of Whitebead’s Parent Teacher Organization.

In past years, proceeds from the event have been used for kitchen equipment, teacher’s grants and new lockers.

In past years the event has brought out very large crowds, sometimes 400 to 500 participants.

This year will be the first year that the entertainment for the event will consist of talent from students from Whitebead School.

Students will put on a talent show for participants consisting of dance acts, singing and even some tumbling.

Tickets for the event are $6 for adults, $3.50 for students and can be purchased from any Whitebead student, at the school office or at the door on the day of the event.

For more information, call 405-238-3021.

BREAKING NEWS: Bennett in custody


By Jeff Shultz



A 27-year old woman wanted in connection with the beating and robbery of an elderly Stratford woman was brought into custody Wednesday afternoon, February 22.

Felicia Lynn Bennett was captured around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Police Department at an apartment complex in Northwest Oklahoma City, according Garvin County Undersheriff Jim Mullet.

“Right now she is in custody at the Oklahoma City Police Department and we have deputies in route now to pick her up,” Mullet told the News Star.

Mullet said Bennett’s arrest was the result of solid police work between the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office, the McClain County Sheriff’s Office, the Lighthorse Police of the Chickasaw Nation and the Oklahoma City Police Department.

“All of the agencies involved worked together on tracking down numerous tips as to where Bennett was and we were able to narrow our search to the Oklahoma City area,” he said.

Bennett allegedly broke into the home of an elderly rural Stratford woman on Thursday, February 9, and in the course of the robbery severely beat the woman and then stole her vehicle to flee the scene. The car was later found abandoned in Ada.

At that time Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes described the assault as “one of the most vicious and senseless attacks I have seen since taking office as sheriff.”

Since the robbery and attack, Bennett was the subject of a massive manhunt involving several law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Marshall’s Office when it was believed she had fled the state.

Bennett was also wanted on outstanding felony warrants in Garvin County from a June 2011 incident when she attempted to elude Garvin County deputies near SH 133 and SH 19.

In that case she received a suspended sentence with no prison time served.

Look for updates on this story in the March 1 issue of the Garvin County News Star.

Paoli man arrested after standoff

By Jeff Shultz

A Paoli man was arrested early Tuesday morning, February 14, after involving local and state authorities in a standoff lasting more than six hours.

According to Garvin County Undersheriff Jim Mullett, the standoff began shortly after 11:30 Monday night after a 911 call was made concerning a domestic assault.

Mullett said Gary Downing, 48, had allegedly assaulted his wife, 16-year old son and stepfather.

“Sometime during the altercation with the three family members, Downing reportedly pulled a high caliber rifle and threatened the three with it,” Mullett said.

A scuffle broke out as the three family members attempted to take the rifle away from Downing. During the struggle, Mullett said, the weapon discharged once, but did not strike anyone.

“Fortunately, all three family members were able to get out of the house and that’s when the 911 call was made,” Mullett reported.

Paoli Police Chief Johnny Turner and several deputies from the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Larry Rhodes, responded to the 911 call.

“They attempted to make contact with Downing, but he never responded to the deputies and Sheriff Rhodes,” Mullett said.

Knowing Downing was held up in the house with the rifle and was considered dangerous, Sheriff Rhodes made the call to bring in the Tactical Team from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

After calling in the OHP Tactical Team, a search warrant was signed Judge John Blake, paving the way for the tactical team to enter the house.

At approximately 6:40 Tuesday morning the OHP Tactical Team made entry into the house and arrested Downing without incident, Mullett said.

Downing was taken to the Garvin County Jail and booked on one felony count of pointing a firearm, one count of domestic abuse and two counts of domestic abuse in the presence of a minor.

After Downing was in custody, a search of his house was executed and authorities found the weapon used in the altercation and another firearm and ammunition.

Suspect sought in weekend robbery

By Jeff Shultz

Garvin County authorities are searching for a 27-year old female in connection to a robbery Thursday night, February 9, on the Garvin and McClain County line.

According to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes, the robbery took place at approximately 5:30 p.m. at a rural residence on East County Road 1490.

The victim of the robbery was assaulted on her property and her vehicle was stolen.

“This is one of the most vicious and senseless attacks I have seen since taking office as sheriff.  It is our belief the person or persons responsible poses a threat to the public,” Rhodes said.

“The victim did not deserve this violent attack and is fortunate to be alive,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the victim was able to identify her assailant.

The victim’s car, a 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis, was recovered Saturday morning after being abandoned in Ada.

Wanted in connection with the robbery is 27-year old Felicia Lynn Bennett.

A warrant for Bennett’s arrest in connection with the robbery was issued Tuesday, February 14.

Bennett, according to Rhodes, is also wanted on outstanding felony warrants in Garvin County from a June 2011 incident when she attempted to elude Garvin County deputies near SH 133 and SH 19.

In that case she received a suspended sentence with no prison time served.

“Since being sentenced in 2011, Bennett has failed to comply to the conditions of the sentencing and warrants were issued in Garvin County for her arrest.  She is avoiding apprehension on the warrants and should be considered dangerous,” Rhodes added.

Anyone with knowledge of Bennett’s whereabouts is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency or the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office at 405-238-7591.

Sadler’s contract renewed by EC-P School Board

By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter

Despite calls for his dismissal, the Elmore City-Pernell Board of Education renewed the contract of EC-P High School Principal Jackie Sadler during the board’s regular meeting Monday night.

Before convening into executive session to discuss Sadler’s contract, the board heard from David Cassell, a concerned parent who addressed the board in reference to Sadler’s contract.

Cassell presented a petition allegedly signed by other parents in the school district. Cassell he and the other parents were questioning Sadler’s disciplinary procedures and citied several examples of problems he had with Sadler before pulling his children from the school district.

Questioning Saddler’s appropriateness and professionalism, Cassell urged the board not to renew the high school principal’s contract.

“People in this town are angry, we are tired of muddy water and it’s time for a change,” said Cassell.

After over an hour in executive session, the board voted unanimously to renew the contract for Saddler’s employment.

Whitebead bond issue defeated; Jones wins in Maysville

By Jeff Shultz

A $170,000 Whitebead Schools transportation bond issue was defeated by two votes in Tuesday’s Annual School Elections, while Maysville School Board incumbent Bruce Jones won his bid for re-election.

According to unofficial results from the Garvin County Election Board, the Whitebead bond issue was defeated 68-66.

The bond issue would have paid for two new buses for the tiny Garvin County school district.

In Maysville, incumbent school board member Bruce Jones won his bid for the Office No. 2 seat.

Jones averted a runoff with challenger Asheley Close by taking 54.8 percent of the votes cast in the Maysville School Board election.

Unofficial results from the election board had Jones taking 90 ballots to Close’s 71. A third candidate, Mignon Zurline, took only three votes.

By state law if a candidate takes over 50 percent of the votes cast in a three or more candidate race they will not have to face the next highest candidate in a runoff.

Meanwhile, in Wynnewood, Kathy Stewart won her bid for the Office No. 2 seat on the Wynnewood Board of Education, defeating Walsie May McLaughlin 353-283.

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