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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.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 19:44

Splashing away the heat

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By Darla Welchel

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Now that summer has finally decided to rear its scorching head, people – children in particular – are seeking ways to stay cool while having a blast.

Of course there is always swimming, but the latest trend is Splash Pads. A splash pad or spray pool is a recreation area, often in a public park, for water play that has little or no standing water. This is said to eliminate the need for lifeguards or other supervision, as there is little risk of drowning.

Until three years ago, most people in and around Newcastle had to travel to one of the city parks to enjoy the fun and cooling effects of a splash park. Today, they only have to travel to Blanchard, just west of Lion’s Park. 

The City of Blanchard decided to build the unique recreational area and it has been in full use ever since they opened the summer of 2012, said Parks and Recreational Director Chris Wittenbach. The splash park is open from Memorial Day weekend until after Labor Day; the hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and open until 9 p.m. on Friday Saturday. 

Wittenbach said the water supply is on a four-minute cycle, but all the children have to due to reactivate it is to touch the button on top of the red activator pole. As you can imagine, when the splash pad is full of children, the water never stops. 

The park is free to the public and the City of Blanchard maintains and supplies the water, he said. There are two pavilions at the splash park that can be rented for a nominal hourly fee, Wittenbach said. Contact the city for questions about rental fees.

There are park rules such as all children must be supervised by an adult and NO RUNNNG – this one is ignored a lot. For a complete list of rules, which are posted on the park entrance, check out the parks webpage at www.cityofblanchard.us/splashpad.

Other cooling stations

Splash Pads are a hit with both children and parents alike. Here is a brief list of just a few closest to Tri-City, as well as some pools.

Andrews Park; 201 W Daws, Norman

Colonial Estastes Park; 1641 E Lindsey, Norman

Shannon Springs Park open 9-9; California and 12th, Chickasha (also has a public pool)

WashitaValley Park, open 9-9; 1427 Henderson, Chickasha

City of Mustang Aquatics Center, 1201 N Mustang Rd, Mustang

Apple Valley Park; 321 SW 39th St., OKC

Taylor Park; 1113 SW 70th St., OKC

Sellers Park; South Villa Ave., OKC

Youngs Park 2145 SW 46th St., OKC

Reed Park Sprayground; 1217 N May Ave., OKC

For a complete listing Google Spray Parks in Oklahoma City.

Thursday, 10 July 2014 19:17

Library continues Summer Series

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By Darla Welchel

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You won’t want to miss one exciting moment of  The Newcastle Public Library’s July summer reading program. There are just a little over four weeks left of exciting fun designed for all ages.

Check out all these fun activities and programs beginning tomorrow:

Sparks of improvisation

With the art of improvisation, OKC Improv professionals bring a performance and a guided improve acting workshop from 2-3 p.m.  on Friday, July 11 for all teens. Even if your career goals aren’t acting, you’ll have fun, and improve skills in: brainstorming, creative thinking, decision-making, team development, and observation.

Teen Saturday Matinee

Teens can keep cool with a FREE movie, popcorn, and drink at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 12. Our movie will have a PG-13 rating. Call or come by the Newcastle library for movie title and ticket.

Cool off with healthy snack ideas at the library

The library is battling the heat of summer with the program “Hot Snacks to Cool You Off,” at 2 p.m. Monday, July 14.

Melissa Church of Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services will be at the library to show children ages 6 to 11 several delicious and easy-to-prepare snacks to help keep cool during the summer.

She’ll also share examples of creative ways to add physical activities to the schedule during the summer. Space for the program is limited to 25 participants, so registration in advance is required.

Story time looks at the science of sound

Experience the science of sound during story time, set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 16. The interactive story time is for ages one to five and their caregiver. It will focus on a variety of interesting sounds. It will include rhymes, stories and other activities. Registration is not required to attend.

Tommy Terrific’s Wacky Magic of Science Show

Kids will roll in the aisle as they answer Tommy Terrific’s silly antics with sidesplitting giggles. From 2-3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, Tommy and his crazy, long-necked, purple, big-beaked puppet delight parents and children alike as they explore the magic of science with a sense of humor unmatched by any other. Tommy Terrific brings a unique blend of laugh-out-loud comedy coupled with illusion and puppetry, all combined with an educational approach that is all about having fun with books. 

Make recipes healthier with food workshop

Spice up the kitchen with help from the Newcastle Public Library and McClain County OSU Extension Service and the program “Recipe Modification,” at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the library, 705 NW 10th St.

Mickey Simpson, Extension Educator, will give advice on creating nutritious and delicious meals. By changing just one or two ingredients in a recipe, chefs can reduce sodium, sugar and fat in their family’s diet. The program is for ages 18 and up and registration is not required to attend.

Teen weather and air workshop

Teens are invited to a creative and educational program on “Weather and Polluted Air,” at 1 p.m. Friday, July 18. Madison Stirland, representing the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, will present the program, and teens will take on several activities and experiments that demonstrate how weather and air pollutants affect the quality of the air.

Registration is required in advance to attend the program.

Decorate a unique garden rock 

The Library is giving local residents ideas to spruce up the look of their gardens during the program “My Garden Rocks,” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 19. Participants will paint their own one-of-a-kind garden rock to take home and put in their own garden. All supplies will be provided by the library.

This program is for adults ages 18 and older, and registration is required in advance to attend.

For more information about any of these programs, visit the library, call 387-5076 or go online to www.pioneerlibrarysystem.org/newcastle.


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By Darla Welchel

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Local runners will be “dyeing” to participate in Newcastle Chamber of Commerce’s first foray into the racing scene with Racer Dye 2014 Color Run.

And although the 5K run and walk race is still a couple months away, organizers wanted to spread the word about this exciting event in order to garner needed sponsors, volunteers and of course runners, said event chairperson RaeAnn Thomas.

“The purpose of the Chamber is to promote local business and what better way than to have such a popular event like a Color Run in order to hopefully draw hundreds of people into our community,” Thomas said. “We will be running down Main Street for all to see.”

The chamber has already received some sponsorship for this event but is still accepting sponsorship to be able to put on this colorful event, she said. They also need many volunteers to pull off such a vibrant running experience.

“We will need volunteers for set-up, packet pick up and clean-up,” Thomas said. “And, Runners can register now. They can ‘Like’ our Racer Dye Facebook page for updates and find a link to register there, or go to www.signmeup.com and search ‘Racer Dye’.”

A Color Run is not a new phenomenon; in fact, this particular 5K race (3.1 miles) is not only popular in North America, but also South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Typically, there are no winners, but runners are showered with colored powders at stations along the run.

The non-toxic, food grade colored cornstarch is called Hippie Powder, Thomas said. It does wash out of your clothes, skin and hair, and it is safe to use on grass as well. It is recommended to wear white clothes that you don’t care about getting stained, because it can stain if it gets wet.

The Details

Racer Dye will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday,  Sept. 27 at Veterans Park, she said. Colored racers will travel down NW 10th St. South on Main Street, around the High School and back to Veteran’s Park. Early packet pick up will be from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, September 26 in the Community Center located  in the Library.

The cost for runners and walkers is $35 for adults and $25 for children under the age of 12, and all participants will get a Swag Bag, which will include a commemorative T-shirt,  sunglasses, and other goodies, Thomas said. A portion of the Racer Dye proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

“We will have a DJ with fun music for the runners and spectators to enjoy and we plan on having a few food vendors. They are not confirmed, but the National Guard is supposed to bring a rock wall as well,” Thomas said. “We will also have a photographer who will provide prints the day of the run.”

Sponsorship and volunteer information, as well as registration for runners for the Racer Dye 2014 can be found on Racer Dye Facebook page, or go to www.signmeup.com and search ‘Racer Dye. 

And if you have never ran a 5K before and would like to start, the Mayo Clinic has posted a 7-week training schedule for beginners – just Google how “far is 5K.”

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