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By Darla Welchel


People love their pets, sometimes more than their own lives.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association's Pet Ownership Statistics, more than 60 percent of U. S. homes have pets – more than have children.

Unfortunately, when there is a disaster such as home fires or tornadoes, many animals are left behind because of lack of rescue training of first responders.

In an effort to properly train first responders, the City of Newcastle's Community Emergency Response Team hosted a BART workshop for area professionals and first responders. 

BART stands for Basic Animal Rescue Training and is a non-profit organization from Minnesota, which trains first responders to address the needs of pets and livestock in emergencies and disasters. 

Newcastle's coordinator and Assistant Emergency Manager Johnny Wingate organized the three-day workshop that began with training for certified veterinarians and vet techs in the area. On Saturday, members of his CERT team, as well as others from around the area joined Wingate to learn how to care for animals during an emergency. 

"The workshop went well; we had a lot of good information, and my people seemed to like it," Wingate said. "BART had good equipment and showed everyone how to use it properly." 

Several veterinarian professionals, including Newcastle's own Patti Maness DVM, attended the Thursday and Friday night session to become certified BART trainers. Twenty-five first responders joined the trainers in training for the Saturday hands-on workshop, he said. 

Sadly, during the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 44 percent of victims refused to leave because their animals could not be evacuated; seven of those people died.

After this tragedy, Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-California) and Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut) introduced the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) on September 22, 2005; the bill passed the House of Representatives on May 22, 2006 by a margin of 349 to 29. This initiative would require states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters.

But it is not just huge disasters that affect humans, their pets and first responders; it is also home fires or medical emergencies, said BART trainer Virginia Rud. Rud, who is Certified Vet Tech and has been with BART since its conception, said often firefighters are impeded from entering a home because of an overprotective dog. 

"By knowing how to properly retrain an animal, firefighters can enter a structure safely to do their jobs," she said. "They can also, perhaps save the life of the animal."

Also, in this day of hand held technology, everyone has a video camera; improper handling of an overprotective or aggressive pet can become a public relations nightmare, Rud said. She sighted several cases, which appeared on YouTube of officers who were forced to put an animal down, because they didn't know how to safely restrain it.

The BART workshop trained first responders in three basic areas: basic CPR, first aide and restraining and containing. At the beginning of the workshop, each person in attendance was given a short FEMA quiz to test their basic knowledge; after the course, they were retested on the material, Rud said. 

At the close of the event, the BART team presented Wingate with complete Emergency Response Kit filled with animal CPR equipment, first aid supplies and a restraint bag with special restraining leashes. 

The BART training and the gift of the Emergency Response Kit was made possible through a grant from Kirkpatrick foundation. For more information on BART visit their website at www.basicanimalrescuetraining.org. For more information on Newcastle’s CERT team, contact Wingate at the City of Newcastle or visit them on Facebook.

Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:45

First National Bank fills a need

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By Darla Welchel

Outfitting your children with school supplies can be expensive, especially if you have more than one child in grade school.

The staff at the Newcastle branch of The First National Bank and Trust Co. want to help offset the expense sending little Johnny or Suzy back to school by handing out school supplies during their first Annual Fill the Bus Event.

Children ages sixth grade and under can come and pick up a backpack full of supplies from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 3 at the bank located at 1308 N. Main St., said Head Teller Jennifer Winchester. Winchester and Branch Manager Shannon Christian are co-organizers of this new annual event. Backpacks will be given out while supplies last and after that, supplies will be given in plastic bags.

"The First National Bank and Trust loves to serve our communities and thought this would be a great opportunity to give back to the children and the schools," she said.

But, in order to give, the bank needs the communities help in getting all the needed supplies. It is taking donations of school supplies and backpacks at its Newcastle location until July 31, Winchester said. 

Here is a list of much needed supplies:

 Back packs

 Crayola Crayons 

     (not Rose Art)

 Crayola markers

 Colored pencils

 No. 2 pencils

 Loose leaf paper

 Scissors (5-6” pointed)


 Glue (Elmers stick or bottle)

The bank is receiving great support and help from the business leaders of the Newcastle Community, Winchester said. In fact, Custom Dental is donating $2 for every customer they see beginning last week until July 30. 

First National Bank will even be holding its own fund raising event from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., this Saturday, July 26 in the parking lot of the bank, she said. The staff will be hosting a car wash and encourage everyone to come out and get their cars cleaned. There is no set charge, but they are accepting donations to go toward purchasing backpacks and supplies.

Day of the Event

First National Bank has set its sight on making the Fill the Bus Event a day of great fun as well as giving back to the community, Winchester said. 

Not only will they be handing out school supplies to Newcastle children, but there will be free chili dogs and drinks sponsored by Sonic Drive-In and Pioneer Telephone, Moon Bounces, a dunk tank sponsored by the Newcastle FD and a host of carnival games sponsored by various businesses and high school groups. Also, the Newcastle Police and Fire Departments will be bringing over several vehicles for a "touch the truck" experience, she said.

"Even the high school cheer squad are doing a booth; they will have a football toss," she said. "Jake FM will be on hand playing music, and the McClain and Garvin Youth and Family Services, who are big contributors, will have a booth."

All of the fun activities of the day will be held in the field just south of the bank building, Winchester said. They have already received a lot of support from the community and believe this event will be even bigger than they expect.

"This is our first year to try this. We will see what works and what we need to add for next year," she said. "We hope in the future it will continue to grow, and we can make it bigger and better each year, which will make an impact on our children and our community."

Branch Manager Shannon Christian added, "First National Bank loves our community and has a heart to invest back to the children."


Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:33

Out of Africa

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By Darla Welchel

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Newcastle is a great place to raise families, animals . . . and crops.

And to raise those crops, one farming business relies on good irrigation to keep the fruits and vegetables well watered.

It was TG Farms' unique blend of drip and pivot irrigation that delegates from Kenya, Africa came to view last Monday.

A group of governors, deputy governors and their aids were in the United States to attend the National Governors Association held in Nashville, Tennessee. At the conclusion of the summer meeting the Chair of the NGA, Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, invited them to tour our own state government including its Department of Agriculture, said Secretary and Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Reese.

"We wanted to show the group from Africa some drip irrigation and variable frequency drive systems, so I contacted Todd Griffith with TG Farms to set up a tour," he said.

Professor David Sperling, PH.D., the director of the UTAWALA project, said the study tour was sponsored by the USAID to give the delegation an opportunity to learn about the ways individual states in the US are governed and how different departments – like the Department of Agriculture – are run. Dr. Sperling, lives and works in Kenya and was on tour with the delegates.

Todd Griffith and Mayor Karl Nail not only gave the tour and explained how the two different irrigation systems operate from the same water well, but also explained the benefits of each. Griffith also showed the delegates the machine that lays the drip system, which makes a furrow, lays the water line, mounds up the earth and covers the whole thing in special plastic to retain the water.

The visitors were extremely impressed when Griffith told them that the drip system pumps 800 gallons of water a minute. Mayor Nail explained how holes were punctured through the plastic sheeting to allow for seeds or plants to be placed in the mounds. This system not only waters the plants efficiently with limited evaporation, but also helps with weed control.

At the close of the tour, the delegates sampled fresh sweet corn right out of the field and were given a bushel of corn and a box of freshly picked okra for their dinner that night. In return, they presented Griffith and Nail each a thank you gift from their country.


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By Darla Welchel

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Have you ever wanted to meet an otter? Or better yet, swim with one? Very soon, you will be able to without leaving Oklahoma.

Tiger Safari has always prized itself on being one of the largest interactive exotic zoos in central Oklahoma, but things are going to get all wet with the installation of the all new Otter Encounter Pool.

The Otter Encounter Pool will let guest interact with some of natures most amicable creatures - the otters, said park owner and operator Bill Meadows.

“During this incredible experience, you will literally swim with Asian otters and get up close and personal with some of the center’s resident animals,” Meadows said. “You mesmerize people when you do interactive exhibits. It gets people to listen to us better about animal welfare and husbandry. You’ll also find out more about the amazing work that is carried out by this non-profit animal facility dedicated to making dreams come true for sick and traumatized children.”

During a guest’s swim, they will be in the pool with a group of playful otters who are equally fascinated by humans, he said.

“Laugh, splash and have a whole lot of fun as you encounter these magical creatures like never before and gain an amazing insight into the species. You’ll also meet, feed and directly interact with a variety of other incredible creatures including a kangaroo, armadillo, porcupine, African ground hornbill and more,” Meadows said.

In addition to the otters, some of Meadows larger creatures will be using the pool, hence the need for the shallow end. Guest will be able to watch as the park’s tigers take the plunge in the encounter pool, he said.

Meadows met with pool designer David McLeary of Blue Haven Pools last month to hash out what the encounter will look like, McLeary said. Initial plans suggest the encounter will be a 60 X 25 foot pool complete with a shallow area for easy access.

McLeary said that it will take him a few weeks to complete the designs, which will have acrylic viewing windows on one side and stadium seating on the other. He also expects that once construction starts, it will take roughly 12 weeks to complete the encounter at Tiger Safari located at 963 County Street in Tuttle.

Newest baby in town

Tiger Safari is also pleased to announce the birth of the newest member in their exotic family; an adorable Snow Tiger, who has yet to be named, Meadows said. The snowy white fur-ball with distinct grey stripes was born in mid-May and has already been delighting guests at the park.

“I haven’t named him yet, because I want to get to know him, get to know his personality,” he said.

The proud parents are also residents at the wildlife zoological attraction - Sabadra and Ojos. This snow tiger is one of only 25 to be born in captivity in the world, Meadows said.

The little guy is being cared for by Tiger Safari staff and being bottle fed as his mother didn’t show any interest in him, he said.

“Animal parents are like real parents, you get some good ones and some not so good,” he said.

Ticket prices for regular park entrance are $10 a person, with booked group rates of $7 each with groups of 20 or more, Meadows said. And for those looking to become regular members, there are season passes for $200 per family. For more information about Tiger Safari, visit them at www.tigersafari.us.


Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:17

Convenience store featured in Indy film

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By Darla Welchel

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Sometimes it’s who you know that opens doors for you. And in the case of small business owner, Collin Teague, a friend of a friend of his mother’s landed his drive thru convenience store a spot in an upcoming Indy Film.

The Oasis just opened its doors on May 1 of this year, and already, it is going to be a star.

Writer, producer and director George Adams is making a film about a young orphan in search of a miracle. Although the title of the film is called Emerald, Texas, Adams wanted to film part of his movie in Oklahoma. 

When he mentioned to “the friend” that he was searching for a convenience store location for a scene, Teague’s store in Blanchard came up. One thing led to another, and on Sunday, July 6, the cast and crew descended on Blanchard to begin filming at the Oasis Drive-Thru.

“My mom had a friend who knew the director, and he mentioned he needed a convenience store for his movie,” the 26 year-old Teague said. “Adams said he didn’t want us to close the store, and that they would move out of the way when regular customers came in.” 

Fortunately, Sunday mornings are the unique store’s slowest time, Teague said. Oasis Drive-Thru only caters to drive up customers selling beverages, beer, tobacco products, snacks, fountain drinks, deli/grill items and snow cones. No one except employees enter the store.

“We have large windows for customers to see what we have, and we run and get it for them, so they don’t have to leave their cars,” he said. “When I was in high school, I worked at Dave’s Cave in Chickasha (another drive-thru store), and I loved the concept.”

Teague, who along with his business partner brother, James, 21, said they are the only two employees right now. They work very long hard hours and having the film crew was a nice diversion, he said. Teague is also partnered with his mother, Cindi, but as she lives in Edmond, she does not work the drive thru.

“At one time during the filming, there were about 15 people in our 1,000 square foot store,” Teague said. “It was a little hectic, but it all worked out wonderfully as we are slower on Sunday.”

And his younger brother actually filled in as an extra – but as a biker rider, not an employee. In fact, a couple of community members also got to fill in as extras, he said.

The Oasis Drive-Thru didn’t get paid to be used as a film location, but they will get mentioned in the credits, Teague said. The filming only took about three hours and then it was business as usual for the hard-working brothers.

The Oasis Drive-Thru is located at 216 W Veterans Memorial Highway across the highway from the Burrito Grill. To find out more about the movie and filming in Blanchard visit The Oasis Drive-Thru on Facebook or www.emeraldtexasmovie.com.

The drive-thru convenience store is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.


Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:14

OKC Improv holds workshop at library

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By Max Terrell

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Teens had a chance to stretch their acting chops when the Newcastle Public Library hosted the group OKC Improv Friday, July 11. 

The group consisting of four performers held a workshop and did performances for the teens. The group had many of the kids come and perform with them or had the students remaining in the crowd give out suggestions to act out. 

While many of the young teens in the audience were nervous about performing in front of their peers, some got up on the stage and performed with the group. All the while,  OKC Improv gave quick tips and advice to the teen performers to not only improve on their skills as improvers but to also ease the minds of the nervous ones.

The improv group was founded in 2009 by producers Marcy Fleming, Buck Vrazel, Clint Vrazel, and Eric Webb. The four have many years of combined experience and perform at various theaters and clubs in Oklahoma City.

They have also set a focus on education performing for many teens teaching 200 classes and have held workshops for over 1000 people. 

Their performances are heavily inspired on audience participation. This seemed to work well for the teens as many who seemed shy for most of the performances broke out of their shell later on in the workshop. There were a few students who jumped right into the action and performed without hesitation expanding upon their creativity. 

OSU Extension Services will hold the “Recipe Modification” program Thursday, July 17, at 2 p.m.

Coming up: 

The Summer Reading Program event finale “Eureka! I Got it!” 

The fun starts at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 23. 



Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:10

Practicing Good Health

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By Darla Welchel

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They aren’t exactly the new kid’s on the block – HPI Tri-City Clinic opened its door in August of 2013 – but the multi-faceted healthcare provider was officially welcomed into the Tri-City community last Wednesday. 

Healthcare Partners Investment, located at 300 NW 32nd St., held its Grand Opening during a Newcastle Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting ceremony in which it served lunch to community and business members alike, said HPI Office Manager Kendra Clonts. 

“We are so excited to be in Newcastle and the Tri-City community,” she said. “All our patients are great, and we want to be their ‘go to’ place for all their medical needs.”

HPI began when OSSO (Oklahoma Sports Science and Orthopedics) Healthcare Network decided to branch out into family practice, said HPI family practitioner Dr. Megan Hanner. It is `affiliated with Community Hospital.

To date the clinic offers a full family practice with Jeramiah Walker, APRN-CNP, a board certified family practitioner, joining Dr. Hanner Monday through Fridays.

Other HPI staff members are Dr. Ryan Nelson and Dr. Sean O’Brian – both orthopedics specialist – Dr. Michael Alvis, a spine neurosurgeon and, most recently, cardiologist Dr. Bryan Cogar, Clonts said. Also on staff is Kevin Mason a PC-C in orthopedics and Physical Therapist David Haynes with Consano PT. 

Unlike Dr. Hanner and Walker, the specialists are only available certain days of the week, she said. Dr. Nelson sees patients on Monday mornings, whereas Dr. O’Brian is available on Wednesday afternoons, and Dr. Alvis on Thursday mornings. Dr. Cogar, the newest member of the team, only sees patients the last Thursday of each month. However, Consano Physical Therapy is open every day of the week. 

“We have very respectable physicians,” Clonts said. “We are looking into getting other specialists as well; we want to bring in more specialist to the community, so they don’t have to travel to the city for their medical needs.” 

HPI accepts most insurances and Medicare and Medicaid, but for a complete list, contact the clinic at 387-3323.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:08

Morgan continues to pursue dream

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Newcastle’s rising star Kylie Morgan has continued to follow her dream of becoming a country music star and finding great success in her young career.

The young musician has kept herself busy the last few months constantly playing shows. Her most recent performance took place at Riverwind Casino on July 3, which just happened to be her 19th birthday. 

Morgan had her first big break about two years ago when she landed a spot on the E! Network’s television show “Opening Act”. The show allowed her to open for country artists Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Not only did she open for a massive concert on her episode, but she also received invaluable lessons from vocal coach Nick Cooper.

The biggest benefit for the then 17 year old singer may have been the publicity she received while the show aired.

Morgan devoted much of her time in the Country music world in Nashville where many, if not all, country artists have had to make their name.

“I have been going to Nashville to play at least one show a month,” Morgan said. “I’ve also been writing songs, and I have been offered a publishing deal out there.”

While Morgan has focused on her song-writing and performances, she still has her eyes set on what she considers to be important, she said. 

Morgan, through her music, has tried to impact the lives of others with various projects and songs. She has been a supporter of anti-bullying and has a new project developing in California called Band Together to Stop Bullying. 

Her fight against bullying started when she was writing songs in Nashville, she said. Morgan wrote a song called Phoebe in an attempt to send her anti-bullying message. The song is written for the memory of Phoebe Prince who immigrated to America from Ireland. Prince would later commit suicide after being bullied at her new school. Morgan was the same age as Prince. Just 15 years old; inspiring Morgan to campaign against bullying.

The young singer has also had to deal with emotional hardships along the way. During the tornados  that hit Oklahoma in 2013, Kylie lost her house in the storm. After losing her home, she said that it gave her a new perspective on life. She channeled that into her music, she said. 

Morgan says that she always tries to put true and raw emotion into every song she writes . 

Morgan not only uses her music to fight bullying but she says her goal to be a role model for young fans, she said. 

“I think the biggest thing I want to achieve is to be a role model for anyone and everyone I can,” Morgan said. “It’s one of my number one goals. Honestly, now I think about my decisions not only for me, but for the ones looking up to me.”

Currently Morgan is an independent musician, which makes her successes even more impressive. She has managed to climb up the ranks of the country music world even after the split with her label and keeps her mind on continuing to make a difference for people.


Monday, 14 July 2014 14:47

Katie Marie Sanford

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Katie Marie Sanford age 90 of Bridge Creek, entered the arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ on Friday, July 11, 2014.   Marie was born to Floyd Day and Golden (Hale) Day on October 24, 1923 in Featherston, Oklahoma.

Marie’s passions were, her God, her church and her family. She loved her Jesus and was a faithfully servant of Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Newcastle. On Sunday’s she loved greeting people with a warm hug and passing out church bulletins. She made friends with everyone. For many years she completed the Sunday school records, served and organized funeral dinners and for nearly 20 years she and Wesley prepared the gifts used at the Lords Supper.  

         Marie enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest. She was proud to be a recipient of the Diane Award.   She liked riding her tractor and brush hogging her land, even at the age of 90.   As a 16 year breast cancer survivor, she participated in the Susan B. Komen race every year. Her daughters and granddaughters struggled to keep up with her fast pace.

         Marie was always cooking, baking and taking care of those she loved. Her biscuits and pies were her family favorites. The holidays were a magical time for Marie. It meant a full day spent with her family-talking, laughing, playing and of course, eating. At the end of the day, Marie always had the last word saying, “I Love You More”.

She was preceded in death by:

Her Parents, Floyd and Golden Day; Three brothers, Floyd Jr., Earl and Carl Day;

She is survived by: Husband, Wesley Sanford of the home in Bridge Creek; Four daughters,Marye Spier of OKC, Ludie Sanders of Romance, AR, Kay Marshall and husband Michael of Norman, Travis Miller and husband Don of OKC; Five sons, Romie Brown of OKC, Carl Brown and wife semarie of OKC, Charlie Brown of Blanchard, Michael Sanford and wife Kathy of OKC,             Terry Sanford and wife Kris of OKC, 18 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, 16 great great grandchildren and one on the way and her favorite dog, Thomas. Numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and her church family. Her family gives special thanks to granddaughter, Ami Williams for her months of selfless love and superior nursing care she extended to Marie.

Funeral services will be 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Newcastle. Interment will be at Resthaven Memory Gardens in South OKC. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 3419 Via Lido #205, Newport Beach, CA 92663. Funeral arrangements are with Wilson-Little Funeral Home in Newcastle. Send online condolences @wilsonlittle.com

Monday, 14 July 2014 14:43

Stella Dawn Steelman-Howard

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Funeral service for Stella Dawn Steelman-Howard, 43 of Bridge Creek, Oklahoma will be held 

10:00 am Monday July 14, 2014 at the Heritage Family Baptist Church in Tuttle.

Stella Dawn Steelman-Howard was born November 24, 1970 in McAlester, Oklahoma to Reford and Terri

Steelman.  Dawn was called from this earth to be with family in Heaven on July 3, 2014 in Idaho Falls,

Idaho.  Dawn was the most amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  She loved her

Family and friends, and that love she shared was passed on to every person she came in contact with.

Dawn worked at the Room To Grow daycare in Blanchard, Oklahoma, where she shared her love in

caring for the children.  She also worked at Stopping Time Photography, where she helped her husband capture  memories for others in the Bridge Creek area.

Dawn was preceded in death by her grandparents and two aunts.

Dawn is survived by her husband Charlie Howard

One daughter, Gage Howard, one son, Colton Howard

Her mother Terri Steelman,  Her father Reford Steelman and his wife Barbara

Brother Allen Steelman and family,  Her sister Myka oberlechner and family, 

Stepsister, Dana Ferguson and family

Interment will be in Fairview Cemetery, Tuttle under the direction of Sevier Funeral Home

Of Tuttle.

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