Elmore City bids farewell to Barnett

Former EC Police Chief Brynn Barnett

By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter

After almost five years of service, Elmore City bids farewell to a well known resident and respected Police Chief as Brynn Barnett and his family pursue opportunities in Mt. View, Oklahoma.

Barnett has been on the EC Police Force since 2006 and before that had not been in law enforcement long.

Barnett’s wife Cara has accepted a position in the healthcare field in Anadarko, a town close to Mt. View.

Brynn is hoping to get on with the Kiowa County Sheriff’s office.

In Brynn’s time in EC, not only has Brynn made his mark on the small town’s law enforcement history but he has also made a few long time friends.

“I’m happy he and his family are moving on to better things, but I sure miss him watching the crosswalk with me,” said Lisa Rollings, Elmore City Town Clerk.

With Barnett leaving, long time officer, Joseph Henslee will fill the vacant chief position and Josh Hines will assume the position of assistant chief.

Voters to go to polls Tuesday

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

Voters will go to the polls this Tuesday, February 14, to elect new school board members in two county school districts and decide the fate of a Whitebead Transportation Bond Issue.

School patrons in Maysville will cast their ballots for Office No. 2 of the Maysville School Board. Candidates appearing on the ballot are Asheley Close, Mignon Zurline and Bruce Jones.

In Wynnewood, voters will choose between Kathy Stewart and Walsie May McLaughlin for the Office No. 2 post on that school board.

Patrons of the tiny Whitebead School District will also go to the polls to decide the fate of a $170,000 Transportation Bond Issue.

According to Whitebead Superintendent of Schools Mary Smith, the bond issue is needed to provide the district with some new buses.

“Everyone may not ride the bus to and from school but we all take them on field trips and school outings,” explained Smith.

The bond includes an annual tax increase of $5.92 for every $100, for the duration of 5 years, Smith said.

If passed, the issue would allow the school to purchase two new school buses to replace two existing school buses.

“Our goal is to provide all our students with reliable, safe transportation,” said Smith.

The small school currently has five buses and one back up bus for approximately 430 students.

Tuesday’s election will mark the first election of 2012 where new voting machines and ballots will be used statewide.

According to Garvin County Election Board Secretary Cathy Brinley, the new ballots will feature a new method of marking the ballot .

Voters still will mark a paper ballot by hand and still will be able to depend on reliable and accurate scanners to count their ballots, she added.

However, voters will mark the paper ballot differently than in the past, Brinley noted.

“Instead of completing an arrow next to the candidate’s name, voters will now have to fill in a box next to the candidate’s name,” she said, noting an X or check mark in the square box next to the candidate’s name is not a valid vote.

According to Brinley, the following precincts in Garvin County will be open for Tuesday’s election.

Pct. #1 – BILL MITCHELL COMPLEX (Training Center), 308 SW 2nd, Lindsay

Pct. #2 – REC MULTI PURPOSE CENTER  808 N. Industrial Heights(E side of Hwy 76N) Lindsay

Pct. #3 – ERIN SPRINGS BAPTIST CHURCH   1 ½ mi. S. of Lindsay on Hwy. 76

Pct. #5 – MAYSVILLE METHODIST CHURCH     705 Mays, Maysville

Pct. #7 – MERIDIAN BRANCH – PV NATIONAL BANK (Conference Room) Pauls Valley

Pct. #8 – AFLAC, 34550 Airline Rd, PAULS VALLEY

Pct. #9 -     ELMORE CITY COMMUNITY BUILDING – 104 South Main, ELMORE CITY (Former Sr Citizen Center)

Pct. #16 – TRUCKS UNLIMITED, 35641 Hwy 29, NE/Corner at intersection of I-35  & Hwy 29,

Pct. #18 – BOSA CENTER – 207 Bosa Ave, Conference Room, PAULS VALLEY

Pct. #20 – WYNNEWOOD SENIOR CITIZEN CENTER, 804 E. Robert S. Kerr, WYNNEWOOD

Pct. #25 – WALKER VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT., 18059 N CR 3330, Stratford, OK.

Election results will be posted on the News Star’s web site as the Garvin County Election Board makes election returns available.

Wadley credits dedication to PV, Garvin County reason for purchase of Marc Heitz Auto Valley

News Star photos by Jeff Shultz: The new awning at the former Marc Heitz Auto Valley proclaims a new owner of the longtime PV car dealership. Seth Wadley, of Seth Wadley Ford, announced this week he has purchased the dealership with plans on expanding the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and GMC store in the very near future.

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

Seth Wadley, owner of Seth Wadley Ford in Pauls Valley, could have bought another car dealership in Ardmore or Norman for much less than what he paid when he bought out Marc Heitz Auto Valley.

But he decided to purchase the local Chrysler, Jeep Dodge and GMC dealership to keep his business in Garvin County.

“My focus and commitment is to Pauls Valley and this area,” Wadley said.

Calling the Marc Heitz acquisition his “Taj Mahal,” Wadley said he plans on expanding the dealership much like he did when he purchased the Ford dealership in Pauls Valley.

“When we bought (the Ford dealership) we had 19 employees at that time and now we have 68 full time employees.

“Right now we have around 21 employees at the new dealership and within 60 to 65 days we hope to have 40 to 45 employees,” Wadley said.

Other plans Wadley has for the new dealership includes building a new service department and service drive and adding on to the General Motors building.

Wadley said he has no current plans to move his Ford dealership to the highway.

“We want what’s best for Pauls Valley. We like this location and if we were to move it would leave a huge gap in the business area here,” he said.

Wadley’s commitment to Pauls Valley and the Garvin County area is well documented.

In the past year, the local Ford dealership has donated approximately $300,000 to local and area sports and agriculture programs.

“We have small town values and we believe in this area,” he added.

“That store (the Auto Valley) was owned by a good group, but their main concern was their Chevrolet dealership in Norman.

“My main concern is what goes on in Pauls Valley,” he said.

Wadley took over the Auto Valley dealership on January 31. Negotiations on the acquisition began in mid-November, according to Wadley.

Since then, Seth Wadley Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and GMC have sold 45 cars.

While selling cars is his primary goal, he’s quick to point out that customer service is a priority for him at both of his dealerships.

“There’s probably someone who has been let down in the past. If we’ve let anyone down in the past, please call me personally and I’ll take care of it,” he said.

Seth Wadley

•Seth Wadley Ford averages around 200 car sales per month.

•Seth Wadley Ford is the #1 Ford Truck dealer in the state and ranks 3rd in the state in overall Ford sales.

•Seth Wadley Ford stocks around 125 used vehicles and 425 new vehicles

•Plans for are for Seth Wadley Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and GMC to stock about 75 used cars and around 350 new vehicles

Wynnewood man killed in one car crash

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

Investigators are trying to piece together just what caused a Wynnewood man to fatally crash into a creek embankment in Grady County on Tuesday, February 7.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Benny Ray Russell, 77, of Wynnewood died at the scene of the accident due to a possible medical condition.

Whether his medical condition was the cause of the accident is still being investigated.

The OHP reported the accident occurred around 11 o’clock Tuesday morning when Russell was traveling east bound on State Highway 19, one-half mile east of County Street 2890 in Grady County.

Russell departed the roadway to the left and his 2007 Chevy Mailbu then became airborne off an embankment and struck a tree while crossing over a creek.

The vehicle then struck the opposite side of the creek.

Russell, the OHP reported, was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.

13 drug arrests made in January

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

A Wynnewood man and three Maysville residents were among 13 drug related arrests in the past month as the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office completed several narcotics investigations, according to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

“These arrests have come from a combination of joint agency investigations, undercover operations and sheriff’s patrol activities,” Rhodes said.

In one case, the Sheriff’s Office assisted the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) in executing a search warrant on a Wynnewood man.

Wilbon Drennon, 40, was in possession of over six ounces of crack cocaine, which had a street value of over $29,000.

Three arrests were made in the Maysville area on two separate cases, according to Rhodes.

In late December Sheriff’s deputies shut down a working meth lab four miles south of Maysville, near Antioch Road and Highway 74.

Hubert Steakley, 00, of Maysville was arrested and charged with one felony count of manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), one felony count of possession of a CDS and one count of possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony.

“Steakley was using what is normally called the ‘one pot’ method of making meth,” Rhodes said.

“He was probably doing that every four or five days at that location. It so happens when we went there to investigate he was making meth at that time.”

Sheriff’s deputies also recovered a stolen trailer from Oklahoma City at the time of Steakley’s arrest.

In a separate case, the Sheriff’s Office and the Maysville Police worked together in executing a search warrant at Maysville residence, which resulted in the seizure of three firearms, drug paraphernalia and a sizable amount of marijuana.

Arrested during the search warrant were Dennis Johnson, 31, and Caleb Spohn, 18.

“We had information that drugs were being sold at that residence,” Rhodes said.

The estimated street value of the marijuana, according to Rhodes, was over $4,000.

Both men were charged with four felony counts including possession of a CDS with the intent to distribute, maintaining a place for keeping and selling a CDS and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

They were also charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the investigations, the Sheriff’s Office two drug dogs have assisted the Stratford and Wynnewood Schools in drug searches and have also assisted the McClain County Sheriff’s Office at the Wayne Schools.

“Drug education continues through our DARE program in the Elmore-Pernell and Stratford schools during second semester and more recently, a call on area businesses to sponsor education material that will be distributed throughout the county,” Rhodes added.

Rhodes added that methamphetamine use and prescription pill abuse is seen as the biggest problem in Garvin County at this time.

“We want to remind citizens of a prescription medication drop box available for the disposal of old or unwanted pills and medicines.  The drop box is located inside the annex at the courthouse on the first floor,” he said.

Rhodes added his office will continue its emphasis on narcotics enforcement and encouraged anyone with a tip on suspected narcotics activity can call Garvin County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-211-STOP (7867).

Southard arrested in obstruction case

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

A Maysville Town Board member faces an obstructing an officer charge after she allegedly withheld information from investigators looking into a domestic abuse case involving her son.

Patricia Southard was arrested by the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, January 20, and charged with one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer.

According to Sheriff Larry Rhodes, Southard allegedly withheld information from a Department of Human Services (DHS) investigator and a Sheriff’s Office Deputy who wanted to know the whereabouts of her three grandchildren.

Rhodes said the case was a joint investigation between the DHS and his office.

“On two occasions the DHS investigator and my deputy inquired about her grandchildren and the whereabouts of her son, Justin Southard, and on both occasions the DHS representative and my deputy had evidence she was not being truthful with them,” Rhodes said.

Justin Southard was wanted in connection with an assault and battery domestic abuse charge from November of 2011.

“The DA felt she was obstructing justice and issued a warrant for her arrest,” Rhodes said.

Justin Southard, Rhodes said, was later captured in Sherman, Texas, and was returned to Garvin County to face the domestic abuse charge against him.

Southard’s next court appearance will be on March 7. Efforts by the News Star staff to reach Southard for comment were unsuccessful.

EC, Wynnewood show sales tax growth

By Jeff Shultz
Publisher

Five Garvin County communities are not off to a good start in 2012 as the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) reported last week all five towns were in the red compared to sales taxes collected by each town one year ago.

Those cities or towns taking a sales tax hit were Lindsay, Maysville, Paoli, Pauls Valley and Stratford.

Only Elmore City and Wynnewood posted gains from 2011 sales tax disbursements, according to the OTC.

Wynnewood had the biggest increase from one year ago, posting an $11,488.28 increase. Elmore City recorded an increase of $1,219.80.

The January distribution of sales tax collections mostly represented local tax receipts from November business, specifically tax collections from November 16-30 and estimated sales for the first half of December.

Of the five cities and towns registering in the red in January, Lindsay took the biggest hit, showing a deficit of $23,081.29 from one year ago.

The remaining four cities posted moderate losses.

Stratford recorded a sales tax drop from 2011 of $2,545.31 while Pauls Valley was third on the list with a $2,065.83 deficit.

Paoli and Maysville were close on the list with Paoli posting a $1,702.71 loss from January of 2011 and Maysville dropping $1,655.71.

State wide the disbursement of $128,336,064 in sales tax collections was returned to 508 cities and towns reflecting a increase of $7,668,399 from the $120,667,665 distributed to 507 cities and towns in January last year.

OU students get first hand look at historic PV hotel

News Star photo by Lindsey Temple: Two OU Architectural students attempt to climb a fire escape ladder located in the back of the old Alvis Hotel in an effort to examine the building from a higher angle. The team of students were in Pauls Valley on Friday, January 27, to study the building and its architecture as part of a class project.

By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter 

A new found interest in one of Pauls Valley’s oldest structures has been taken by the University of Oklahoma’s school of architecture.

Last Friday morning as the group of 15 OU architectural students stepped off the Heartland Flyer they were greeted at the train station by Samantha Robb, Deanna Joy and Lou Hall with the Main Street Pauls Valley organization and a plate of homemade brownies.

The students came just for the morning to take a tour of what is left of Pauls Valley’s Alvis Hotel.

Leading the tour were owners and long time local residents, Larry and Jenny Wallace. The couple was on hand to provide facts about the structure and discuss possible options.

The group was lead by Associate Professor of Architecture at OU, Ronald Frantz.

The students will concentrate on the project for an entire semester in hopes of collaborating and coming up with a vision that suits the structure and the community.

“I think this particular building goes as an example of how smaller communities in Oklahoma can set an example for Oklahoma City and surrounding larger cities in terms of historic preservation and can show that you can still be enthusiastic about a place that was abandoned for years and people can still be passionate enough about their community to want to revive something and make things happen,” said environmental sustainability major, Madeleine Wiens.

News Star photo by Lindsey Temple: An OU Architectural student examines what’s left of the old Alvis Hotel in downtown Pauls Valley. The building partially burned up in a 2009 fire. The OU students were in PV last Friday to study the structure as part of a class project.

A tragic fire claimed most of the hotel’s structure in 2009 but to the group of students, what’s left of the building is a new found hope for urban renewal and a green building.

When the hotel was nearly demolished by the fire, the Wallaces, saw an opportunity to fulfill a long time dream of owning the hotel.

The couple put a bid on the damaged building with the city and once the property was acquired the two promptly contacted Samantha Robb with Main Street Pauls Valley to research options to rebuild.

Robb, who had known Frantz through the state’s Main Street program, saw an opportunity for Pauls Valley to be a leading example of green building, urban renewal and sustainability.

Robb then contacted Frantz, who put the wheels in motion for a possible new attraction in downtown Pauls Valley.

Owner, Jenny Wallace expressed a vision much like the Blue Door in Oklahoma City.

“We are very excited about this, this is a wonderful program and we are so lucky to get to be a part of it. We have thought about so many possibilities for this space, maybe some apartments or hotels on the second floor, a courtyard and a really neat venue on the first floor,” explained Jenny.

This is the first of many trips and assessments that will be made by the students to the structure.

BREAKING NEWS: 17 PV hospital employees laid off

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

Seventeen employees at Pauls Valley General Hospital were given pink slips Wednesday, January 25, in a move to save the hospital thousands of dollars each week, hospital officials announced Wednesday.

The move comes two days after the PV Hospital Board and St. Anthony’s announced the hiring of a new CEO for the hospital.

Gayle Sturgis, interim CEO for PVGH, told the News Star the positions eliminated ranged from as high up as directors to housekeeping employees.

“Some employees were offered other open positions here at the hospital while others were given a severance package,” she said.

The severance package included all remaining holiday and vacation pay each employee had and an expedited unemployment benefits process for those employees who will be leaving the hospital.

Sturgis said the decision was made by the PVGH Hospital Board and the Hospital Authority in an effort to improve efficiency of clinical and support functions within the hospital and position the hospital for the future environment under healthcare reform.

“It was a hard decision to make, but each week we put this off the hospital was losing $25,000 per week,” Sturgis told the News Star.

She added that PVGH is undergoing restructuring of its operations and that additional actions will be taken to improve operational performance outside of position reductions such as billing policies and making the hospital more efficient in it’s purchasing decisions.

New CEO named at PVGH

By Lindsey Temple

and Jeff Shultz

 

A hospital administrator from Holdenville will take over as the new Chief Executive Officer of Pauls Valley General Hospital.

In a special Monday night meeting of the PVGH Hospital Board and officials from St. Anthony’s Hospital, board members and St. Anthony’s announced the hiring of Bridget Cosby as the hospital’s new CEO.

The move comes days before St. Anthony’s will take over the management of PVGH as a management agreement with the Oklahoma City hospital will go into effect February 1.

St. Anthony’s posted the CEO’s position as being open shortly after the management agreement was signed by city officials and St. Anthony’s earlier this month.

Current interim CEO Gayle Sturgis will remain on board until February 27.

“We have a lot of work to do but I am very excited,” said Cosby after the announcement was made.

Cosby comes to PVGH from Holdenville General Hospital, where she served as the CEO and comes from a financial background and a CFO history.

As of September 2011, the 25-bed hospital in Holdenville entered into a similar agreement with St. Anthony’s while Cosby served as the hospital’s CEO.

The decision to hire Cosby came after hospital board members and officials with St. Anthony’s met in executive session to discuss the CEO position.

After coming out of executive session, PVGH Hospital Board members Dennis Green, Loren Cronin, Hugh Vaughn and Kristin Jarman voted unanimously to take St. Anthony’s recommendation to hire Cosby.

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