By Darla Welchel
Not everyone likes the smell that comes from a mixture of sweet hay, sawdust and animals, but for the students and supporters of the Newcastle FFA Fall Livestock Show and Cake Auction, it is the smell of sweet success.
The event took place last Saturday at the Newcastle Fairbarn and in addition to lots of Blue, Red and Purple ribbons won by FFA students, the cake auction brought in over $6,000 to help support the Ag program, said Ag teacher Brandon Morgan.
There were countless cakes, pies and other sweet treats entered in the cake auction. Each student submitted two entries and many other supporters donated items as well.
The sell of the cakes is a much anticipated event for the Newcastle community and many businesses and organizations, such as First National Bank and Trust, Wynne Feed and Seed and First Baptist Church to name a few, add this to their fall calendars every year in support of the program. Many other community members, as well as booster parents also bid on the bakery items.
Winners of the Cake Show were: Grand Champion Cake, Lainee Lawson and Reserved Champion Cake, Austin Hey.
Up next for the FFA students is the McClain County Fair on Sept. 4-6 in Purcell.
Grand Champion – Cheyenne Nikodym
Grand Prospect – Sydney Bean
Grand Market – Baylor Bonham
Beef Showmanship – Baylor Bonham
1st - Rylie Scott
1st - Sydney Bean,
2nd - Kaytlyn Bean, Sydney Bean
1st - Sydney Bean
2nd - Kaytlyn Morgan
Grand Champion Doe – Sydney Bean
Reserve Champion Doe – Kaytlyn Bean
1st - Lainee Grider
1st - Lyanna Grider
1st – Nicole Lee
2nd – Dereck Price
3rd – Laycin Grider
4th – Shae Richards
Grand Champion Wether – Nicole Lee
Reserved Champion Wether - Justin Scott
Jr. Goat Showmanship – Sydney Bean
Sr. Goat Showmanship – Nicole Lee
Hamp – Breed Champion, Randall Thompson
1st – Kaytlyn Bean
1st – Kaytlyn Bean
Breed Champion – Kaytlyn Bean
Reserve Breed Champion – Kaytlyn Bean
Supreme Gilt – Randall Thompson
Reserve Supreme Gilt – Kaytlyn Bean
1st - Micayla Murffin
2nd – Kaytlyn Bean
1st – Randall Thompson
1st – Kaytlyn Bean
Breed Champion – Randall Thompson
Reserve Breed Champion – Micayla Murffin
1st – Baylor Bonham
2nd – Micayla Murffin
1st Randall Thompson
1st Randall Thompson
Cross Breed Champion – Randall Thompson
Cross Reserve Breed Champion – Randall Thompson
Grand Champion Barrow – Randall Thompson
Reserve Champion Barrow – Randall Thompson
Jr. Swine Showmanship – Baylor Bonham
Sr. Swine Showmanship – Randall Thompson
Herdsman’s Award – Joshua Miner
Grand Champion – Taylor Elliot, Holland Lop
Grand Champion – Abby Owens, White Leggern hen
Reserve Grand Champion – Wyatt Nikodym, Black Silky hen
By Darla Welchel
There are only 118 days, eight hours and 25 minutes left until Christmas.
Every child has this countdown embedded into his or her brain as they anxiously await the day filled with fun, family and most of all, presents.
Unfortunately, not all children have as much to look forward to as the Holly Jolly season approaches. Although Oklahoma's unemployment rate is lower than year’s past, some families still find it difficult to make ends meet, let alone have enough money for extras like holiday gifts.
This growing trend is why the firefighters and officers of the Newcastle Fire Department are so passionate about their Fire House Santa program, said Lieutenant Tony Samaniego with the NFD.
The philanthropic endeavor began four years ago to help provide children with a happy Christmas, he said. The NFD teamed up with the Angel Tree Project and other corporate sponsors and played Santa to 100 Newcastle school children last year complete with a huge Christmas party with pizza, inflatables, craft activities and of course Santa handing out gifts.
In order to fund the Fire House Santa program, the NFD have held a Sporting Clay Tournament for the last two years, Samaniego said. This year's tournament is right around the corner - albeit sooner than Christmas itself. It will start at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Quail Ridge Sporting Clays locate at 2401 S. McCloud Rd, Okla. City. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
The department is still seeking sponsors for this unique event, he said. Corporate Lane Sponsors run $800 and include signage at the lane with additional signs up around the shooting range to promote the business. There are 10 lanes set aside for the morning's event.
First National Bank and Trust is the only Major Corporate Lane Sponsor, Samaniego said, but the fire department wouldn't turn down other interested parties. This lane sponsorship is $1,500, and businesses are given "extra special attention."
In addition, individual community members give donations to help make the Fire House Santa program a huge success, he said.
The cost for shooters for the day's event is $100 for individual shooters or $350 for a four-man team – each shooter receives 100 clays, Samaniego said. Last year, the tournament saw nine teams supporting the Christmas event, so far this year, there are already 14 teams signed up.
But it is not too late to join the fun and help give a child a huge smile on Christmas, he said. Anyone interested in sponsoring should contact Andy Campbell at 405-227-5467, Aaron Bunch at 201-5407 or Samaniego at 802-1757.
Those who would like to join in the shooting at the Sporting Clay Tournament, can pre-register on the NFD Firehouse Santa Facebook page or just show up the day of the event.
By Cody Johnson
The Newcastle Public School Administration found a new home on the southeast side of campus in one of the oldest buildings in town, putting all central administration under one roof.
The First Baptist Church of Newcastle built the building as their new auditorium in 1948, however many others over the years have owned the building. City Hall resided there until they moved to the facilities on South Main St. The old building remained vacant until it was bought out by Summit Church, from whom the school system acquired the building. Summit remodeled the building previous to the school purchasing it.
Superintendent Tony O'Brien does not foresee outgrowing the new building anytime soon. For the first time, all the district's administration is in one location; previously special education was located in the middle school and technology was located in the high school.
"It's been very positive," O'Brien said. "The good thing is we have [another] auditorium here that's going to be able to be used for all kinds of meetings; town hall, board meetings, all of our professional development meetings."
The school administration went from less than 3,000 square feet to over 12,000 square feet with the move, which came about from a two-step process.
"We had bond money that had to be used on acquisition," O'Brien said, "and we needed more parking space at the ECC."
The school first acquired a building at 120 NE 2nd Street and some land to the east. They then cleared the land east of the building of trees and growth, leaving it a field to be later used for additional parking at ECC before selling it to the City of Newcastle as a new City Hall location for $478,000. The school retained the field east of the building’s parking area.
Superintendent Tony O'Brien then approached Summit Church about buying their building. Since January of 2013, Summit Church has been meeting on Sunday mornings in the school auditorium, having outgrown its facilities.
In an agreement with Newcastle Public Schools, Summit Church received $450,000 for its building, along with being able to use the school's auditorium on Sunday mornings for five years. They will also be able to use the school’s old administration building as office space for the duration of the five-year contract.
It was a great for both parties, Executive Pastor of Summit Church, Jay Stokes said. Not only was it good from a business perspective, it would also help out Newcastle Public Schools, the one buyer that could utilize the property to their best advantage, he said.
"We have a lot in common," Stokes said. "We are both trying to create an environment for families to grow."
Summit Church does not own land yet, but is looking to purchase some within the Blanchard, Tuttle, or Newcastle area in the future to build a new auditorium.
The School Administration began moving into their new building the first week of July. They have completed the move, however there are some safety and security issues still to be completed on the building.
Many of The Newcastle Pacer's readers have noticed a bit of change in the past couple months, to not only the staff of The Pacer, but also the look.
Clarence Wright was hired in June of 2011 as graphic designer when the paper was still owned by the Chickasaw Enterprises, he said. After the acquisition of The Pacer by Tri-City Publishing, Wright was promoted to production designer. More recently, he was promoted to General Manager of the paper.
"It has been an honor working with the Newcastle community," Wright said. "I look forward to expanding the relationship we have with Newcastle. Anyone with news tips or ideas is welcome to contact me."
Even though he has taken on these new duties, Wright is continuing to improve the look of The Pacer through his graphic design talents. He not only is credited with the newest mast banner displaying the name of Newcastle's hometown paper, but he most recently did a complete redesign of the front page and interior layout.
Wright attended Oklahoma State majoring in graphic design. He started his college career in journalism and worked as writer for the college newspaper The O'Collegian.
"We are excited to include more coverage of education and sports in The Pacer," he said.
After a nearly three-year hiatus, Darla Welchel is back on the beat covering everything from education to city news. Welchel brings back to The Pacer not only over 20 years experience and a passion for the communities of both Newcastle and Bridge Creek.
"Newcastle is my hometown, so I have a deep connection here," Welchel said. "I moved here in seventh grade from the city because of my horse. People still say they remember me riding my horse to school. I now live in Bridge Creek, so I have a real commitment to showcase both these wonderful communities. It is my goal to put the community back into the paper."
Welchel, who has an Associate’s Degree from OKCCC in journalism and photography, worked at the college’s paper The Pioneer as the photo editor for two years.
"I love capturing what’s going on in town through photographs," she said. "People love to see themselves and especially their kids in the paper, and I can never resist snapping an adorable kid."
Also joining The Pacer is Cody Johnson.
Johnson, 22, is from the small community of Talala, Okla., so he understands the dynamics of a hometown community. He started at The Pacer August 18.
He graduated from Oologah High School in 2010 and attended the University of Central Oklahoma where he graduated last May with a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism with a minor in advertising.
"I took some journalism classes in college because I was an advertising major, and they are in the same department," Johnson said. "I fell in love with writing and talking to people to get their unique story."
Johnson, who will tackle all of Newcastle's sporting stories, was a sports reporter and later editor for The Vista newspaper at UCO for one and a half years, he said. Although he will be focusing on sports-related news, Johnson will be seen covering a multitude of stories throughout town.
"The people in Newcastle have impressed me most with their nice and welcoming personalities. They retain the small town feel, which reminds me of home," Johnson said. "It’s hard to get homesick that way."
"One thing all three of us have in common is our love for community, and the desire to make The Pacer a great paper," Welchel said. "We know we can't cover everything in this ever-growing town, but we want to be available to do what we can to promote the city and its people."
By Cody Johnson
The Bridge Creek Quarterback Club is teaming up with a local artist to fundraise on Saturday in the high school parking lot for the Bridge Creek football team after their field house was vandalized.
Kevin Foster, 20, a Bridge Creek graduate and local red dirt musician, decided to put on a benefit concert to help his alum.
"I have to give back to the program that gave me a lot," Foster said. "I can’t just sit around when stuff like that happens."
The event grew from a simple concert to a full fundraiser with food vendors and kids entertainment when the Quarterback Club came onboard.
Foster, who will be playing with his band The Travelers, will be headlining the show. He also recruited the Nathan Burris Band from Tuttle to play, along with a "surprise acoustic guest" to open for the concert.
"Hopefully we can bring the community together to help out," Foster said.
Food vendors Trevino's, Robbie Bell's Pizza and barbeque will be set up selling food, while Allison's Fun House and a dunk tank will be set up to entertain children. A jail where people can pay to have their friends or family locked inside and who then in turn have to pay to be released will also be available.
The event is drawing some big companies to sponsor such as Crest Foods, Bob Moore, Great Plains Coca Cola and Frontier City. More local companies such as Joe Bobs Bail Bonds, At-Link and French's Printing have also stepped up to help sponsor the event for the Bobcats.
Admission to the event is $10 per person or free for children ages 12 and under. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the Music is set to start at 6:45 p.m. All proceeds go to the Quarterback Club who will use the money for replacing equipment damaged during the August 3 vandalism.
Last Saturday at Meet the Bobcats day, the team sold T-shirts, lemonade, and hotdogs, along with a raffle featuring University of Oklahoma autographed memorabilia. The event raised $5,574 to go towards recovering from the vandalism.
By Darla Welchel
As the township of Newcastle continues to grow, so does enrollment on the districts four campuses.
The past two years has seen the largest increase in enrollment at the Early Childhood Center, but that is not the case for the 2014-2015 school year, said Superintendent of Schools Tony O'Brien.
The middle school received the biggest boost in numbers going from a total enrollment of 395 to 440 students, he said. The inflated numbers can create problems in terms of real estate as the school was already operating at capacity. In all, the district increased enrollment by a margin of 4.63 percent or 95 students.
Newcastle moved up 148 eighth graders to high school at the end of last year, and so far this year, they have seen an increase of 151 sixth grade students. These numbers do not even account for the other grades or new enrollment, he said.
"The middle school is definitely the tightest school [in terms of space]; every classroom is full," O’Brien said. "It was constructed to be easily built onto, but we have to have the funding to do it."
The district will need to pass another bond issue in order to add on to the middle school, but unfortunately, it will not be eligible to propose another one for the next five years, he said.
The speed in which a bond issue is paid off and a district's bonding capacity is all based on a very complicated formula. And although Newcastle Schools' net evaluation has grown, because of State Question 766, its funding has been drastically reduced, O'Brien said.
"State Question 766 took a huge slice of our [funding] pie," he said. "We went up in total growth (in ad valorem tax), [but with the new tax laws, we will receive less funds.] In essence, we should have added $4,335,549 to the tax roles, but in reality, we only added $2,037,181 because of SQ 766."
State Question 766 exempted intangible property — such as patents, contracts and mineral leases and knowledge — from ad valorem property taxes. The exemption applies to about 250 businesses, such as utilities, railroads and airlines.
Initially, officials estimated the change would cut around $30 million from school funding across the state.
Then the state Tax Commission estimated the tax break would total $50 million statewide, but recently, the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration has estimated that the total will be twice that amount.
"This is a huge hit for us," O'Brien said. "It affects us three ways: general fund, building fund and bonding capacity."
"All those bonds sold in 2005 were sold with an anticipated six percent growth rate; we've hit that only one year, and because we haven’t grown at that rate, it has hurt us. When the kids are growing at a faster rate than the tax dollars are, I’m forced to stretch fewer dollars across more kids."
O'Brien said he wasn’t exactly sure what the district would do about the overcrowding at the middle school, and he has lost more than a little sleep over the problem. The board has come up with lots of plans such as transporting students to other locations and making use of portable buildings – none of which are ideal, but may be necessary.
"Our matriculation numbers are pretty flat for the next three years, but that is not accounting for any new homes and families," he said.
Superintendent O'Brien gave a complete report during his State of the School address during Tuesday's Chamber Business Exchange Luncheon. During his address, O'Brien said that there were two solutions to this problem.
"This is year two of SQ 766; the Tax Commission seems to think that we will have one more year of small businesses taking advantage of the deal and most big business have already used it, so it might lesson the affect of SQ 766," he said. "And number two, it depends on how much corporate growth we have; for instance, the new hotel is not on the books yet."
By Darla Welchel
The people have spoken, and soon the construction will begin on the Bridge Creek School campus.
After last Tuesday's election, the Bridge Creek Bond Issue passed with a 65 percent win, said Superintendent of Schools David Marrow. The proposal was for $15,680,000 to make much-needed additions and improvements to the District’s facilities.
"In this bond issues, we wanted to get something for all age groups, and we chose items we felt would relieve the most stress to our facilities," he said.
These are the projects slated to be completed, according to the Bridge Creek Bond Issue website:
The district demonstrates care for its community by proposing the community safe room inside the new gym. When asked why they were building it, Superintendent Marrow said, that last year's tornado showed them that the community members, especially the elderly, who came to the school seeking shelter in its classroom safe rooms, had difficulty navigating through the hallways.
"The school had let out for the summer, and we had already begun waxing the floors, so the hallways were filled with desks and chairs from the classrooms," Marrow said.
The new community safe room will be one large room, he said. Another reason for the need of a community shelter is because the school does not have the ability to house the community members in the event of a storm that occurs during school hours.
"During the school day, there is only room [in our existing 10 classroom safe rooms] for our students," Marrow said. "This new safe room will allow room for the community with outside access. We feel this will be easier for the community, especially the elderly to use because they can come in one door and won't have to navigate through students or the hallways."
The new gym, which will be air conditioned, will be connected to the existing old gym with a new girls and boys locker room in the middle, he said.
"When the old gym was built, we only had four basketball teams, now we have 10 teams," Marrow said.
The other much-needed building project is a middle school cafeteria with a kitchen and dining area, he said. The middle school, which moved to the old high school, does not have a cafeteria.
"Right now, I have 750 students using a cafeteria built for 450,” he said. “It will also add another meeting room that we can use."
To help alleviate growing pains at the high school, the bond issue will allow the district to add two more classrooms to the building, Marrow said. The addition will up the schools capacity to accommodate 50 more students, sustaining it for five to six years.
Two other projects will take place on the elementary campuses. First the gym at the elementary will be remodeled with new flooring and with the addition of air conditioning, he said. Next, and only after the high school gym project is completed, the original red brick elementary building will be remodeled and updated to accept students again.
After having some walls removed, the building is being used as the Bobcat wrestling room.
Marrow hopes that the district will be able to start on some of the smaller projects like the gym remodel and high school classroom as soon as school lets out next May. Kahle Wilson with Design Architect Plus will be drawing up the designs for the construction project.
"I appreciate the community's support," Marrow said. "The passage of this bond was a community effort and it is greatly appreciated."
By Darla Welchel
Swing your partner round and round. This phrase conjures images of swirling skirts, smartly dressed gents and an abundance of good company.
The Centennial Squares square dance club would like to invite anyone who has ever thought about square dancing to come help them celebrate their 7th Anniversary. The dancers, who represent McClain County, will hold a night of food, fellowship and great dancing at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30 at the Newcastle Community Building located inside the library.
This year's Centennial Squares celebration will have a Mexican theme and will feature great food, visiting dancers and a special intermission entertainment, said dance caller Mike McCormick.
"We expect to have most of our club members present (about 35 people) and visitors from around the south metro area, Shawnee and Yukon," he said. "This dance is a celebration of the anniversary of forming the club here in Newcastle America in 2007 - Oklahoma’s Centennial and the inspiration for our club name."
McCormick and his wife Linda took over the microphone as callers for the club in 2013, when former callers Tom and Faye Moore stepped down due to health reasons, he said. The Moores formed the club in 2007. Today, McCormick calls for Centennial Squares and is Vice President of the Oklahoma State Callers and Teachers Association (OSCTA).
"We began square dance lessons while dating in 1971 with Jim and Cathy Adams, current Centennial members," McCormick said of he and his wife.
After they graduated from lessons, the couple was married in 1972. McCormick founded the "Spirit of 76" square dance club in 1975 and called for several local clubs, regional and national events in the 1970's and early 80's, he said. After hanging up his mic to raise three adopted children, two daughters and a son in the 80's, 90's and new Millennium, Mike and Linda returned to dancing in 2008 and to calling in 2009.
Learn to dance
The Centennial Squares will be offering square dance and western line dance lessons beginning Tuesday, Sept. 16. Each class will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the library's community center, McCormick said.
Those new to the idea of dancing can come and try it for free for the first two lessons, he said. If they like it and decide to stay for the entire 15-week session, the cost is only $2.50 per person per lesson.
"Square Dancing is an amazing opportunity to turn off the stress and troubles of the daily grind, find a getaway with your significant other and kick it up a notch," McCormick said. "If you wonder what it is like, come out for our Open House Dance where we will give new dancers a taste of square dancing at our regular dance on Sept. 5 to get a flavor for what it is all about."
For more information about the Anniversary Celebration or the dance lessons contact either Brenda Medrano at 831-6625 or Mike McCormick, 517-4097.
By Cody Johnson
Construction started last week for a new recreational field within Newcastle city limits. Shane and Carla Tillison, owners of Bigg Papa’s restaurant, are fronting the project on land leased to them behind their restaurant.
“We are trying to give the kids the potential to be in sports and play sports, Carla said, “because there are a lot that don’t get to do it and sports does a whole lot for someone.”
The main purpose is to give any local sports team a place where they can raise funds, Carla Tillison said. It is also going to be a safe family oriented environment for local kids to come practice and to stay out of trouble.
The whole project is coming about through donations from the community, although not all the donations are officially lined up yet, she said. Bob’s Dozers Service donated four days worth of dirt work to level the one-acre lot and remove growth.
The project does not have a completion date but they hope to either sod or turf the field and add goals, Tillison said. The recreational facility will include a soccer field, however the other sports to be included are undecided. Potential sports are volleyball, Frisbee, and flag football.
“We just want people to know we opened it for the kids,” she said.
By Darla Welchel
Do you have a kid who loves to take things apart and put them back together?
You probably have come home to your toaster or DVR in pieces only to wonder if it will ever be the same.
Instead of getting frustrated at your little mechanic with the inquisitive mind, load them up and take them to the Science Museum Oklahoma’s newest permanent exhibit The Tinkering Garage.
“Tinkering Garage is a space to investigate, experiment, design and create,” said Museum Network Director Sherry Marshall. “Customized interactive programming and access to innovative tools and technology allows visitors of all ages the opportunity to dive deeper into problem solving, exploring science, engineering, math, art, and technology. By taking time to test, adapt, and retest, visitors will take part in the scientific process and discover how that process helps better explain our world.”
Although the exhibit had a soft opening a month ago “to beta test” the workstations with the museum’s target audience, the official Grand Opening took place on Friday, August 8. Filled with every kind of mechanical and technological castoffs, The Tinkering Garage is a gadget lover’s nirvana. In fact, they are always looking for donations of old mechanical items and AA batteries.
“As we move forward as a society, we want to make sure we have generations who know not just how to use technology but also who can create it,” Marshall said. “This exhibit builds critical thinking skills and logic skills.”
The new exhibit is actually a rework of the existing tinkering center, and it is filled with so many new and exciting things to do, said media director Christa Copeland. The exhibit has taken recycling and upcycling to a whole new level with hundreds of old phones, toys and other gadgets available for visitors to take apart and put back together.
In addition to The Tinkering Garage, the Science Museum Oklahoma has hundreds of other exhibits for the science-minded - most of them interactive. Also available is Destination Space, filled with items like one-of-a-kind space artifacts such as the actual Apollo Command Module Mission Simulator and Science Live a daily live science performance show where visitors can see first hand chemistry and physics in the form of some amazing chemical-reaction explosions.
There are also several areas for children just to run, play and be physical such as the Gadget Trees, which feature the world’s tallest spiral slide. And of course, the museum formally known as the Omniplex still has its famed planetarium.
The Tinkering Garage is fun and fascinating for all ages of children and adults, as is the entire Science Museum Oklahoma. But if you intend to visit, be sure to plan for the whole day as you can not see and do it all in just a couple hours.