Truck driver killed in Thursday morning crash

By Jeff Shultz



An Elgin, Okla., truck driver was killed Thursday morning, August 2, when his semi-truck veered off the roadway and struck a tree on State Highway 29 4.5 miles west of Elmore City.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Lester D. Latimar, 59, was traveling west bound on SH 29 at around 5:30 Thursday morning when his 1989 Peterbilt semi-truck ran off the left side of the highway, struck a tree and overturned one-quarter of a time.

The crash ejected Latimar approximately 75 feet from the point where his truck came to rest.

Latimar was transported by the Elmore City EMS to Pauls Valley General Hospital where he was pronounced dead by the medical staff at PVGH.

The OHP reported no improper action was taken by Latimar to cause the accident but did state a medical condition of Latimar’s might have caused him to lose control of his truck.

The OHP did not say what that medical condition was.

Two injured in early Thursday morning crash

By Jeff Shultz



Two Garvin County residents were seriously injured early Thursday morning, August 2, in a one-vehicle crash that occurred shortly after midnight on a county road three miles west of Pauls Valley.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), the accident was due to the driver of a 2007 Chevrolet Pickup traveling at a high rate of speed.

Injured in the accident were Dalton Wagenblast, 21, of Elmore City, and James Russell, 26, of Lindsay.

Both were flown to the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Wagenblast was admitted in serious condition while Russell was admitted in critical condition.

According to the OHP, the pickup was traveling east bound at a high rate of speed when for some reason it left the roadway to the left, struck a ditch and overturned several times before landing on its side.

The OHP reported the driver of the vehicle has not been determined yet.

Wagenblast, the OHP reported, was ejected approximately 70 feet from the point where the pickup came to rest while Russell was ejected approximately 90 feet.

Both men were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of crash.

Trooper Heath Green of the Garvin County Detachment investigated the accident.

The Pauls Valley Fire and Police Departments, Rush Creek Fire Department and the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office assisted Green in the investigation.


By Jeff Shultz



It was destined to happen.

With 100+ temperatures, very little rain in the forecast and several small, but significant, grassfires in Garvin County this past weekend, the Garvin County Board of Commissioners implemented a 30-day Burn Ban during their regular weekly meeting Monday.

“We had a tough weekend,” said Garvin County Emergency Management Director Bud Ramming. “We had a barn burn down over off Kimberline Road, and several small grass fires to deal with. We’re just lucky none of the fires got severely out of control.”

Ramming said one grass fire was started when the property owner was mowing his yard and hit a piece of metal which produced a spark that set the grass on fire.

“That’s how dry it is out there. Just the smallest of sparks can start a grass fire,” he said.

Another fire was started when a welder was welding too close to dry vegetation, Ramming added.

The 30-day Burn Ban means residents in Garvin County can not have any open burning of any kind.

“They can’t burn their trash or have any type of controlled burn. Outdoor charcoal grilling is permitted, but as long as the grill is a good distance from any dry vegetation,” Ramming continued.

Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes said Monday his office will be watching for violators of the Burn Ban.

“The burning of trash in burn barrels is the biggest complaint we see,” Rhodes said in a prepared news release.

Rhodes added that many times citizens conducting the burning activity think they are in compliance with the requirements of the burn ban but actually they do not meet the exceptions for outdoor burning.

Additionally, many citizens are unaware a burn ban was implemented.

“Field deputies are being encouraged to use good judgment and exercise discretion in making physical arrests for illegal burning during these times,” he added.

However, those who knowingly violate the Burn Ban could face prosecution, Rhodes said.

“Deputies responding to complaints of illegal burning will make a detailed incident report and forward the findings of their investigation to the Garvin County District Attorney‚Äôs Office for review and possible prosecution,” he said.

The criminal act for violation of the burn ban is a misdemeanor which carries a penalty including a fine of up to $500.00 and/or a maximum of 1 year imprisonment.

Later on Monday, Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties in Oklahoma, due to extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

“Extreme heat and dry conditions continue to affect the entire state,‚Äù Fallin said. ‚ÄúMy administration will be ready to help provide whatever aid and assistance it can as Oklahoma communities work to cope with this drought.”

The Executive Order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness. It is also a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.

Car Fire Leads to Two Felony Arrests

Stratford firefighters Jason Fulks (right) and Curtis Elmore survey a fire damaged SuV that caught on fire Saturday afternoon. As it turned out, the driver and his brother were both wanted on felony warrants out of Garvin County. News Star photo by Susan Stone

By Susan Stone

News Star Reporter


Stratford Fire department responded to a car fire two miles south of Stratford and half a mile back west on Saturday afternoon at around 4:30 p.m. Brothers Dustin Sanders and Kaleb Sanders of Stratford along with two small children were riding in the car when they started to smell smoke. The driver quickly pulled the vehicle over and got the children out then looked under the hood and saw the flames.

When firefighters arrived there was a Chevy Trailblazer fully engulfed in flames. The fire spread from the vehicle to a nearby bar ditch and pasture. Thanks to the quick response of the fire department they were able to contain and put out the fire in the pasture before it spread and got out of hand unfortunately the vehicle was a total loss.

Police Chief Scott Collier and Officer Michael Lewis were on scene and talked to both Dustin and Kaleb. To verify that the information the men had given was correct Officer Lewis checked both through Garvin County dispatch. The brother’s day went completely up in smoke when dispatchers notified Chief Collier and Officer Lewis that both men had outstanding felony warrants for malicious injury to property out of Garvin County.

The children had been picked up by their mother and both brothers were placed under arrest. Garvin County Deputies came over and gave both a free ride to the Garvin County jail since the car the brothers had been driving was now a total loss.


Stratford Police stop burglary in process

By Susan Stone

News Star Reporter


Stratford Police Officer Michael Lewis was in the right place at the right time on Sunday, July 22.

While on patrol in the 300 block of Jan drive at around 10:00 p.m. a man flagged down Lewis and told him there were lights going on and off in a vacant house next door.

Lewis went to the residence to investigate and when he pulled up to the residence he saw a juvenile female and one adult man running from the house.

Lewis quickly caught and detained the female and also arrested one juvenile male at the residence.

Chief Scott Collier and Lewis took both juveniles to the Stratford Police Department where they called the parents of both juveniles.

Once the parents arrived at the police department both officers began questioning the juveniles.

The juveniles told Collier and Lewis that it was 21-year old Glyson Nixon that Lewis had seen running from the residence.

Nixon is on probation from a 2010 felony charge for possession of child pornography.

After officers were done questioning the juveniles they were released to their parents. Both were charged with 2nd degree burglary.

On Monday, July 23, officers contacted Nixon’s brother, informing him of the situation and that they needed to speak with Glyson.

The brother was very helpful and 15 minutes after speaking with the officers Glyson Nixon showed up at the Stratford Police Department.

While questioning Nixon he confessed he was the one Lewis saw running from the house the night before and that he did break into the house with the two juveniles.

Nixon was arrested and charged with breaking and entering with unlawful intent, contributing to the delinquency of minors and obstructing a police officer.

Nixon’s court date is set for September 5 at 1:45 p.m. at the Garvin County Court House.

Calling all Super Heroes

By Lindsey Temple 

News Star Reporter 

This upcoming Saturday, the streets of Pauls Valley will be filled with colorful capes, masks and an array of superhero powers unsurpassed by any other group on record, as a group of original superheroes attempt to set a world record.

The Pauls Valley Toy and Action Figure Museum is going for the Guinness Book of World Records for the most original superheroes in one place and area residents are all a buzz, locating costume items and creating their own super powers.

According to Museum curator, Kevin Stark, the idea of International Superhero Day started as a somewhat humorous concept but quickly turned into something much more.

Stark admits, initially he just wanted to see a group of super heroes in one place but created the event in hopes of promoting the do-gooder persona of the superhero and admits that setting the record is actually secondary to him.

“I really want to celebrate the superhero, everyone has a superhero in them, it’s really about finding it, nurturing creativity and seeing it come to fruition,” explained Stark.

In light of the recent mass shooting in Colorado, Stark thought we all needed to be reminded of a little good in the world.

“That guy was celebrating the villain; we want to celebrate the hero,” Stark said.

On Saturday, August 4, at 9 a.m. festivities begin at the Toy and Action Figure Museum with registration and a group photo.

The event lasts all day with a scavenger hunt, free admission to the museum if in costume and discounts with area merchants.

Participates are urged to create their very own original superhero complete with their hero’s back story, super power, and original costume.

At 7:30 p.m. there will be a fashion show for participants to show off their costumes and share their super powers with the crowd.

Following the fashion show there will be a slumber party for all attendants with food and beverages provided by area restaurants.

Participants of all ages and from all areas are welcome to come help set the record and for more information call the Pauls Valley Toy and Action Figure Museum at 405-238-6400 or visit them online at


SORC advocates have their say

By Lindsey Temple 

New Star Reporter


Word traveled fast last Friday, July 20, when Governor Mary Fallin asked the Oklahoma Commission of Human Services to delay voting on an agenda item that would close the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center (SORC), sending the approximately 120 mentally disabled clients into community based care facilities.

On Tuesday, June 12, at a monthly Oklahoma Commission for Human Services (OCHS) meeting in Oklahoma City, Michael Peck, an Enid optometrist and chairman of the OCHS Property Committee proposed a plan to close Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and consolidate services at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid or distribute clients throughout the state community based providers.

“Governor Fallin requested a delayed vote to allow them and her to study the issue in greater detail,” said Alex Weintz, the governor’s spokesman.

Wes Lane, chairman of the OCHS, removed the agenda item from the OCHS monthly meeting, in hopes that the Governor would be able to help them sort out this problem.

This was hopeful news for SORC advocates, including the SORC Parent Guardian Association, as the action delayed a possible dooming fate for the institution.

However, not everyone was as pleased with the delay.

Richard Devaughn, a retired Enid dentist and OCHS member, fears the delay is only making the inevitable worse.

“They’re going to kick this can around until both facilities will be closed and they won’t have a choice,” Devaughn said about families with loved ones at SORC.

“I think it’s the typical political game of kicking the can down the road,” he said Friday. “The governor has her own plans. She’s going to make the decision.”

“We needed to come to a vote,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.”

On Tuesday morning at a very crowded monthly OCHS meeting, supporters of both SORC and NORCE attended the meeting, some wearing buttons, showing their support.

Also in attendance were those opposed to keeping both institutions open.

Although, no vote was planned to be taken, advocates from all sides weighed in and were given 10 minutes to address the commission, in addition to written reports and statements that they had already submitted.

Among those that addressed the commission were SORC PGA President Ken Tally; SORCE PGA Treasurer Frank Appl; State Representative Lisa Billy; Judith Goodwin, Executive Director, Oklahoma Community Based Providers; Della Wilson, President of the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce; James Frizell, Pauls Valley City Manager and Jim Nicholson, Developmental Disabilities Services Division Director.

Tally and Apple urged the commission to not only keep SORC open but also move ahead in providing SORC with necessary funding the institution needs to continue to give optimal care.

Representative Billy asked the Commission for a long term plan that includes parents and guardians in all decision making, a plan that would hopefully lay to rest the limbo of both institutions.

“All of us here want what’s best for the clients of SORC and NORCE. Let’s implement a plan to prevent worry for clients and employees of these institutions and let’s take care of the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Billy.

Pauls Valley, City Manager, James Frizell and Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce, president, Della Wilson, both addressed the commission, speaking of the economic impact SORC has on not only Pauls Valley but also southern Oklahoma.

Speaking on behalf of the Oklahoma Community Based Providers (OCP), was Judy Goodwin, Executive Director of OCP.

Goodwin attempted to dispel any misinformation about community services and encouraged families and guardians to tour community based care facilities.

“Community care can match and exceed institutional services,” said Goodwin.

Executive Director for the Oklahoma Public Employee Association, Sterling Zearley, spoke for those employed at SORC and NORCE.

“These employees have been talked at, they haven’t been talked to,” said Zearley.

Zearley urged the commission to form a task panel and visit the institutions, talk to the people employed there and take form them to form decisions.

The last individual to address the commission was Jim Nicholson, Division Director of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Nicholson sited the ICF/MR program, put into effect in 1971 to assist failing mental health facilities.

Nicholson reminded the crowd and commission that the program was not meant to be long lasting but an urgent much needed fix for our nations developmentally disabled

“It is my opinion that we mandate states to get out of the institution business. We are obligated and our federal partners insist that we provide quality lives for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson asked the Commission to consider closing both SORC and NORCE in hopes of giving the clients a better quality of life in community based care settings.

In a Pauls Valley City Council Meeting Tuesday evening, the Council voted unanimously to continue to support SORC and SORC PGA.

“We need to pursue this aggressively,” said council member, Hal Blevins.

“We will continue to do what we have been doing for the last 10 years,” said Pauls Valley Mayor, Tim Gamble.

Fugitive caught after pursuit

Garet White

By Jeff Shultz



A fugitive from the law who was featured last week in Crime Stoppers was finally brought to justice after leading law enforcement officers on a brief pursuit Monday night.

According to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes, a Crime Stoppers tip was given to the Sheriff’s Office on Monday concerning the whereabouts of Garet White.

White was wanted for outstanding felony warrants in Garvin County and, according to Rhodes, White was “actively avoiding arrest for several months.”

Rhodes said the tip was a possible location and vehicle description of the car White was allegedly driving.

“Around midnight we were checking an area outside of Pauls Valley. I came across a vehicle on Kimberlin Road matching the description of the vehicle White was reported to be in,” Rhodes reported.

White fled north on Highway 77 and then east on ECR 1510. Rhodes said the vehicle in question was successful in eluding him near Lake Road.

The pursuit lasted about five minutes, Rhodes added, and at times reached speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour.

At around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, two Sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle at a rural residence west of Pauls Valley on NCR 3180.

White was arrested at the residence along with Matthew Maness, who was also wanted by the Sheriff’s Office.

“Maness was suspected of fleeing from deputies on foot after a traffic stop in this same area over the weekend,” Rhodes said.

The pursuit of White and persons believed to be assisting him from apprehension is still under investigation.

“More charges are expected to be filed relating to his arrest,” Rhodes said.

Also arrested over the weekend was Jerry Edwards, Jr. Edwards was also featured in last week’s Crime Stoppers.

Scam alert given by Sheriff’s Office

By Jeff Shultz



The Garvin County Sheriff’s Office is warning county residents, especially those living in the Pauls Valley area, to be aware of a possible scam artist making his way from door-to-door using high-pressure sales tactics and intimidating those he speaks to.

“We received several reports of a man going door to door north and west of Pauls Valley on Monday evening,” Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes said.

Callers to the Sheriff’s Office reported a person soliciting to rural residents and were very “persistent and aggressive in his approach.”

“Some of the callers were frightened by the actions of the person,” Rhodes said.

The suspect is described as a white male, carrying a backpack and driving in a white colored four-door vehicle with an out of state tag.

Rhodes said the incidents were similar in nature to reports of the same type of person in McClain and Cleveland Counties over the past weekend.

“In those incidents, authorities have identified by name the individual who is contacting residents at their rural homes,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes wants to remind residents of the importance of practicing home safety and watching their neighbor’s property.

County residents are asked to call their local law enforcement immediately if they observe activity they feel is suspicious.

“While we believe this person is conducting sales calls in the area, my office would like to make contact with him to verify his intentions and inform him of trespassing laws,” Rhodes added.

The Garvin County Sheriff’s Office may be reached at 405-238-9000 or 911 if it is an emergency.

Meanwhile, Rhodes is offering the following safety tips when dealing with strangers coming to your door.

•The number one rule is do not open doors to strangers. If there is an emergency and someone needs to use the phone, call for him or her.

•Always have your screen door and your entry door locked at all times.  Use a window or a peephole to identify your visitor.

•Install a surveillance system and outdoor lighting at each entrance that gives you a facial and full view of visitors.

•If you order products to be delivered to your home set up a place for the deliveries that allows them to drop the package off.  This will prevent the need to answer your door.  •Remember you are under no obligation to answer your door to strangers.

•Don’t rely on credentials or cards that are shown, IDs can easily be faked.

•If home alone, call a friend or family member and talk with them on the phone until the person’s reason to be at your door is determined.


EC set to host first ever Night Out event

By Lindsey Temple

News Star Reporter


For the city of Elmore City, fun, food and friendship are the latest tools in the war on crime.

On Tuesday, August 7, Elmore City will host its first ever National Night Out.

This event will take place immediately following the City Council Meeting at City Hall which, weather permitting, will be held outdoors. The event will include free hotdogs and drinks, hacky sack games, a Frisbee throw, bubbles and handouts for the kids.

“It’s kind of like a kick off for neighborhood watches,” said City Clerk Lisa Rollings. “The focus is on crime prevention and drug awareness.”

Officer Joe Henslee will be on hand to answer questions involving law enforcement, as well as Steve Mayhan of the Garvin County Sherriff’s Office. Members of the Garvin County Crime Stoppers and D.A.R.E program will also be present.

A fire truck will be on display for children to look at, and attendees are also encouraged to “drag” main. Rollings has provided a map of the drag area on Facebook, which will help drivers not familiar with the layout.

“[The event is] mostly just a night up town to get people involved,” said Rollings, “and to make them aware that crime is on the rise and they need to lock their doors and their vehicles.”


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