Health officials issue warning of West Nile Virus

By Jeff Shultz


State and county health officials are warning Garvin County residents to take precautions when outdoors to prevent any exposure to the West Nile Virus (WNV).

According to the State Department of Health there has been one confirmed case of WNV in Garvin County in the past couple of months with 65 confirmed cases in Oklahoma and the potentially deadly virus is attributed to three deaths in the state.

(Photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Health)

The WNV season runs from May to November in Oklahoma, but is extremely prevalent from July through October when people are at greatest risk of exposure to infected mosquitoes, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health (ODH).

Common symptoms of West Nile Fever include headache, fever, and extreme muscle weakness, occasionally accompanied by vomiting or skin rashes.

In some cases, the ODH reports, West Nile virus infection will cause severe neurologic disease such as meningitis, paralysis or encephalitis.

Symptoms of West Nile meningitis or encephalitis may be intense headache, dizziness, stiff neck, marked weakness, muscle tremors, disorientation, mental confusion, or convulsions.

The ODH said persons of any age can develop symptoms of WNV after being bitten by an infected mosquito, but people over the age of 50 are at greater risk of developing serious illness involving the nervous system.

The ODH advises use of insect repellants—particularly those containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD), or IR 3535—when enjoying outdoor activities like gardening, yard work, camping, or other leisure activities.

The type of mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active during early morning and evening hours, so it is important to take mosquito bite precautions during that time of the day.

The ODH also recommends to drain or treat standing water around your home with a mosquito larvacide to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

PV Chamber to host annual Job Fair

By Lindsey Temple 

News Star Reporter 

With nationwide unemployment at an all time high, the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce has once again set out to help area residents gain employment with their annual Job Fair.

On Tuesday, September 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  over 40 employers from the area will be on hand at Pauls Valley’s Higher Ground church.

Area residents are encouraged to come dressed in business type attire and should be ready for a job interview, according to PV Executive Director Della Wilson

At the last Pauls Valley City Council meeting, Wilson asked for the city’s help in funding the event.

The City Council voted unanimously to give the Chamber $1,500.00 to help with advertising for the event.

Council member, Hal Blevins weighed in in strong favor of the request from Wilson, saying, “anything we can do to help people find a job.”

Last year, over 50 area residents gained employment as a result of the Job Fair and many of the same employers will be returning this year.

For more information, call the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce office at 405-238-6491.


Plans underway for Oklahoma Heritage Festival

By Lindsey Temple 

News Star Reporter 

It’s time once again for the 7th Annual Pauls Valley Heritage Festival and Police Department Car Show.

This very unique and “okie-centric “ event is centered around Oklahoma artists, crafters and performers, featuring hand made goods that are made exclusively in Oklahoma.

Beautiful heirloom quilts will once again be on display during Main Street Pauls Valley’s Heritage Festival, set for September 29. The festival will also feature the Pauls Valley Police Department’s annual Car Show. (News Star photo by Lindsey Temple)

Festival goers can enjoy heirloom quilts on display in the historic Arts & Cultural Center (formerly city hall) and in assorted down town businesses as part of the Quilt Walk Tour.

At the end of the Quilt Walk Tour, participants can even cast their ballot for the Viewer’s Choice Quilter’s Award.

Festival events include Art Contests, Main Street’s Got Talent Competition and additional prizes for Art, Quilt and Car Show entries.

Mains Street Pauls Valley is currently hosting auditions for the Main Street’s Got Talent Competition, family friendly acts are encouraged to audition and registration is $20.

The event will take place along Paul Avenue with festivities starting at 9:00 a.m. and are free to attend.

Vendor space is still available and registration forms can be found on Main Street Pauls Valley’s website or at the Main Street office located in the Stark Art Gallery, 211 S. Chickasaw.

For more information contact the Pauls Valley Main Street office at 405-238-2555 or by e-mail at

Maysville water rationing plan gets tweaked

By Jeff Shultz


Maysville residents living at even numbered residences got some water relief Monday night during the Maysville Town Board and MMA meeting as board members and trustees made a slight change to the city’s current water rationing program.

Mayor Ed Pharaoh told the board members it was brought to his attention that residents living at even numbered houses were actually missing two days of watering their lawns and gardens due to the current water restrictions imposed by the city a few months ago.

Under the current system, residents living at odd numbered residences can water their lawn and gardens on odd numbered days of the month and those living at even numbered residences are allowed to water on even numbered days.

“When we have a month that has 31 days, the even numbered residences can’t water on the 31st or the following day on first of the month,” Pharaoh said. “Thus, they are missing two full days of watering.”

Pharaoh moved that on months that have 31 days, the water ban be lifted for the 31st day only, allowing all residents to water.

The motion was seconded and passed unanimously by the board. A similar action was taken in the MMA meeting that followed the Town Board meeting.

Stratford water lines fall victim to drought

Stratford water crews, police and firemen work to repair a busted six-inch water line that recently broke due to the extreme drought in the area. Stratford has experience several waterline breaks because of the drought. (News Star photo by Susan Stone)

By Susan Stone

News Star Reporter

Drought conditions in the Stratford area are taking its toll on water lines in Stratford, keeping a short-staffed water department very busy.

“When the ground is this dry it starts to crack and shift, the shifting puts strain on water lines causing some lines to break,” explained Stratford Water Superintendent Mark Stone.

Stone and water department employee Henry Castino have been working night and day in an effort to keep the city’s water lines, and the water department itself, in tip-top shape.

“Right now we are prioritizing water leaks and doing the worst ones first. We will get them all fixed it’s just going to take a little bit of time,” Stone said.

Sometimes a two man crew isn’t enough manpower to get the larger water line leaks repaired and running again. That’s when Stone depends on the generosity of other city employees and volunteers to get the job done.

“A couple of weeks ago we had a six inch water main break at around 10 o’clock on Friday night. That one couldn’t wait and had to be fixed right then.”

“It took us a little over an hour to fix the leak, but it would have taken much longer if we hadn’t received some much appreciated help from the fire and police departments,” Stone explained.

Trying to repair all the water leaks is not the only job the water department has to do.

Every month the water crew is also responsible for reading water meters for billing, they also do monthly maintenance to maintain the city’s vehicles trying to keep them in good working condition.

Last month they had the added task of getting the park in tip-top shape for the Peach Festival.

Needless to say, Stone and his crew are more than ready for a much needed and well-deserved break.

The water department is aware of most of the water leaks that are around town, but new lines are busting every day, according to Stone.

If you see a water leak call city hall and report it, but remember if the leak is not bad it may not get fixed that day.

“We just need people to be patient,” Stone urged. “We will get all the leaks repaired as soon as possible.”

Tarrant appointed to Maysville Town Board; city employees duties realigned

By Jeff Shultz


Diana Tarrant came to Monday night’s Maysville Town Board meeting fresh from a girls softball game for an interview with the Maysville Town Board.

Tarrant was one of three candidates who were seeking a position on the Town Board to replace the board seat left vacant by Gay Freeman after Freeman resigned from the post last month.

And it was Tarrant who evidently hit a home run Monday night with the remaining Town Board members.

Diana Tarrant, right, takes her council seat next to Maysville Town Board member Patricia Southard Monday night, August 20. Tarrant was one of three applicants for the board seat left vacant by Gay Freeman who resigned from the post last month. Tarrant was unanimously appointed to the post. (News Star photo by Jeff Shultz)

After convening in executive session to interview the candidates for the post, Town Board members Patricia Southard, Trinity Jones and Mayor Ed Pharaoh returned to open session to unanimously appoint Tarrant to the board seat.

Town Board member Trish Smith was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

After receiving the oath of office from City Attorney Dean Hart, Tarrant took her place at the board’s table, stating, “I’m really excited to serve.”

Tarrant’s appointment was one of many agenda items the Maysville Town Board and Municipal Authority meeting on Monday night.

The other big agenda item was a restructuring of duties for all town and MMA employees.

After meeting in another executive session, Town Board members and MMA Trustees moved to make the following changes to the employees’ duties and pay:

•Cameron Box was appointed over the Lake Recreation area and is also responsible for making sure all sewer and water lines are repaired.

Box’s pay rate was raised from $9.75 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

•Trish Brahic, who was appointed as the City Clerk and Treasurer during an August 15 special meeting, received a pay raise from $9.00 per hour to $10.00 per hour.

Brahic replaces Amber Norton who resigned earlier this month to move to Hennepin with her family.

•City employee Shannon Farnen was given a $500 annual salary raise, from $24,500 to $25,000, while Police Officer Steve Huffman was raised from $25,500 per year to $26,000 annually.

•Justin Morris was moved to the Sanitation Department while Steve Dobson will now oversee the water treatment plant, sewer lines and lagoons.

The Board and Trustees also decreed that city and MMA employees were to work in all departments as needed from now on.

In other business, the board approved an increase in part-time hours for Police Officer Robert Huffman.

Huffman had been working 19 hours a week, but will now work 32.

Police Chief Adam McMillan told the Town Board Huffman has been a exemplarity employee, often times volunteering his time to help the police department out.

Town Board members also approved several budget amendment items for the Library, Streets and Alley, Cemetery and Town General departments.

The items were some house keeping amendments so the books could be closed on the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Opponents call bond issue plan ‘wishy-washy;’ School officials confident

By Jeff Shultz


Voters in the Elmore City-Pernell School District will go to the polls this Tuesday, August 28, to decide the fate of a $250,000 transportation bond issue that has drawn some opposition in the past few weeks since the school district announced the upcoming election.

According to EC-P Superintendent of Schools Donny Darrow, the bond issue will allow the school district to purchase three new buses or several low mileage buses.

A brand new bus would cost approximately $80,000 where a good, low mileage used bus would be anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000, Darrow added.

“The buses will not be activity buses, but buses used each day for the routes,” Darrow told the News Star last month.

The district currently has two old buses with an excess of 125,000 miles on each of them.

“This concerns us,” Darrow said, noting the biggest concern for administration and school board members is the students’ safety.

Darrow notes if the bond issue is passed it would mean no tax increase for property owners.

However, the bond issue isn’t without its critics.

One Elmore City man, who says he has plenty of supporters who are against the proposed bond issue, says Darrow’s claims are false.

In a flier and letter to the editor delivered to the News Star, Dwayne Cassell of Elmore City is fervently opposing the measure.

“Our country is so deep in debt that we will never get out of it. Our school system is asking the property owners to go deeper in debt,” Cassell states in his letter.

Cassell said Darrow isn’t telling the whole truth when he claims the bond issue will not increase property taxes if it is passed Tuesday.

“The school states that it will not raise our property taxes, but they failed to tell the public that it will extend our property taxes for a much longer period of time,” Cassell added.

Calling his supporters “the people,” Cassell noted he and others believe the school district should be working to get out of debt rather than going deeper in debt.

Concerning the high mileage on the old buses the district is hoping to replace, Cassell noted 100,000 miles on a diesel engine is not much if the engine is properly maintained.

“We need a skilled mechanic to maintain the existing school buses rather than purchasing new ones,” he said.

Cassell said the school district is flip-flopping on whether to purchase new or used buses, calling the proposal “wishy-washy.”

“We need an exact and accurate accounting of what our tax dollars are to be spent on,” he said.

Cassell also questions the need for new school buses when school enrollment is declining, claiming several students are being transferred to other school districts in the county.

Meanwhile, Darrow and school officials are keeping an upbeat attitude about the upcoming election despite the opposition to the bond issue.

“We are looking forward to a positive outcome,” Darrow said.

“We have sent home fliers with our students and we just want to encourage everyone to make it out to the polls and vote yes, this is very important to our school,” Darrow added.

Tuesday’s election will also mark a run off race for Republican voters in Garvin County.

GOP ballots will feature a run off between Corey Brooks and Peggy Davenport.

The winner of that race will face Democrat Mike Fullerton in the November General Election.

Polls will open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.

Don’t cash that money order


By Jeff Shultz


A scam involving unsuspecting Pauls Valley business people is being used to defraud individuals and banks in the area, the Pauls Valley Police Department warned Tuesday, August 22.

According to PV Assistant Chief Derrick Jolley, two PV residents were almost victims of the scam if it weren’t for an alert bank official and one of the targets of the scam.

“The way it works,” Jolley said, “an individual will receive an e-mail allegedly from a business person in Pauls Valley. They are told they will receive a Post Office money order in the mail and the money order is meant to help the business person who is in trouble somewhere.”

Jolley said the targeted person is not told to reply to the e-mail but is told to look for the money orders in the mail.

The targeted victim is also told to cash the money orders at their local bank and keep $250.00 for themselves and wire the remaining amount to a place in the Philippines.

“The first victim took the money order she received to the bank, however a bank official got leery of the transaction and called the Post Office to take a look at the money order,” Jolley added.

The Post Office confirmed the money order was a fake.

“The money order looks almost legit. If someone didn’t take a closer look at it you’d swear it’s an actual Post Office money order,” Jolley said.

Jolley added another PV resident received the same e-mail but this time two money orders were sent.

“In that incident the targeted victim got suspicious right away and brought the money orders in to us,” he said.

Jolley said the fake money orders have a slightly different watermark and security strip than actual Postal Service money orders.

Jolley said both e-mails were allegedly from the same businessman in Pauls Valley.

“We spoke to the businessman and neither of the targeted victims were listed in his e-mail address book. So, we’re pretty sure his computer wasn’t hacked,” Jolley said.

“More than likely they found his name somewhere on the Internet and started using it in their scam.”

The News Star contacted the businessman, who asked not to be identified, for a comment.

“It’s a shame that someone with that kind of creativity can’t make an honest living,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jolley is urging residents in PV and Garvin County to report any such e-mails or money orders to the police immediately.

“Don’t cash those money orders,” Jolley said. “If they are cashed and the money is wired out of the country, there’s nothing we can do about it. Report any suspicious e-mails or money orders received in the mail directly to us.”

BREAKING NEWS: Silver Alert issued for PV woman

Lola May Sullivan

Garvin County 911 and the PV Police have issued a Silver Alert for an elderly female resident at the Washita Living Center.

According to the Pauls Valley Police, 77-year old Lola May Sullivan from Gertie, Okla., was last seen at approximately 2:22 Wednesday, August 15, leaving the nursing home in PV.

She is described as 6 feet tall, thin with gray hair.

She was last seen wearing white Capri pants, a yellow shirt and a tan colored jacket. She was also seen carrying a green colored jacket on her arm.

Sullivan, according to the police, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She does wear glasses but they were left at the nursing home.

If you see Sullivan call 911 or the PV Police at 405-238-5531.


No bond for Hammer


By Jeff Shultz


Justin Hammer will be spending a lot of time in jail as Judge Trish Misak held the alleged murder suspect on no bond during a court appearance on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

Hammer, 30, was arrested last Thursday, August 9, after an informant told the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) that he witnessed Hammer placing body parts in five gallon buckets and dumping them in his pond on his rural Elmore City property.

Misak’s ruling came after the state had successfully argued that Hammer had premediatated the gruesome murder of his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

Justin Hammer

Hammer had previously been held on a $2 million bond.

According to court documents filed by the District Attorney’s Office on Friday, August 10, the OSBI was made aware of the alleged murder on Wednesday, August 8, by Van Robert Emblom.

“Emblom actually first called the District 21 Drug Task Force in Norman,” said OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown. “From there the Drug Task Force called the OSBI.”

Emblom told OSBI agents that Hammer had taken him to his residence after asking him if he wanted to party.

According to Emblom, once they arrived at Hammer’s house Hammer confessed to him that he had killed Brandon Mark Duran, the ex-boyfriend of Amber Andrews, Hammer’s girlfriend.

Hammer then told Emblom he needed his help in disposing of the body.

Emblom reported seeing five white five-gallon buckets at the back of Hammer’s house and that Hammer told him he had dismembered Duran after shooting him in the eye and put Duran’s sawed up body parts in the buckets with cement and water.

Emblom told investigators he helped Hammer load up the paint buckets, which held Duran’s arms, legs and head, into Hammer’s pickup.

He also assisted Hammer load up a large blue tarp, which at one time Hammer allegedly felt the bottom of it to see if it was “leaking.”

After leaving Hammer’s residence, Emblom told Hammer he didn’t want to have anything to do with Duran’s murder and asked to be taken home.

The OSBI contacted the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office later that night and Sheriff Larry Rhodes and other deputies conducted a traffic stop on Hammer at around 1:30 Thursday morning.

Hammer was brought to the Sheriff’s Office for questioning, where he confessed to OSBI investigators he had killed Duran in an act of self defense.

According to court records, Hammer said Duran had forcibly entered his home through the back door and threatened Hammer.

Hammer said he grabbed a shot gun near his gun cabinet and from five feet away he shot Duran in the head.

After dismembering Duran’s body in his bathtub, he took the five paint buckets and the blue tarp, which held Duran’s torso in a black cage dog kennel, and tossed them in his pond.

On Friday, August 10, the OSBI drained the pond where Hammer said he dumped the paint buckets and blue tarp.

Near the bottom of the pond the paint buckets and dog cage was found.

Hammer made his initial appearance on Friday, August 10, where he was held on $2 million bond.

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