Community Corner (242)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 19:12

Construction begins on new recreational field

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By Cody Johnson

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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. 


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By Darla Welchel

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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. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 17:53

Golden Spotlight

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July's Golden Spotlight honors Ellamae Thompson Dobbs. 

Ellamae, 84, was born in Foster, Okla. but moved to Canute, Okla. within a couple years of birth where she started kindergarten and continued her education unto graduating high school. 

At 16, Ellamae married Iver Thompson and had three children: Betty Jetty of Newcastle, 67, Ronald Thompson of Dibble, 64, and Darrell Thompson of Dibble, 59. The Thompson family moved to Oklahoma City in 1965. 

Iver worked at O'Brien Paint Company while Ellamae worked at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in the operating area taking care of office work. While working one day, a surgeon pulled Ellamae into the surgery room where she watched the first open-heart surgery performed at the OU Medical Center. 

"I saw it in his chest beating while they hooked up hoses to the new one," Ellamae said, "One of the surgeons asked, 'are you alright?' or if I was going to faint?"

Iver suffered a stroke in 1985 and passed away two years later. Ellamae tried to retire several times, but always went back to work at the OU Medical Center. She supported her mother until her passing in 2002. 

 After having her own open-heart surgery in 2005, Ellamae officially retired and moved to Newcastle with her daughter Betty. 

Ellamae enjoys traveling. She has gone to many places including the western Oklahoma beehives, Kansas, and Branson, Mo. Her favorite trip was a steamboat trip that floated up the Mississippi River into Nebraska where she stayed in a big lodge. While traveling in April 2009, she met a man named Gayle Dobbs. 

"When you love someone, age doesn't matter," Ellamae said, "I never really thought about my age." She was 80 when her and Gayle Dobbs were married in November of 2009 in Rocky, Okla. with around a 100 people in attendance, mostly seniors. 

   "A big wedding for me," she remarked.

   Ellamae moved to Rocky with Gayle and they traveled on senior tours. Gayle Dobbs had five children from a previous marriage; Clint Dobbs of Yukon, Okla., Jeff Dobbs of Missouri, Trudy Berlander of Dallas, Tex., Molly Jones of Snyder, Okla., and Bridget Walker of Fort Cobb, Okla. 

 "I finally had a big family," Ellamae said, "Molly even called me 'mom.' She didn't have to, but she did."

Gayle fell sick and was taken from Ellamae two and a half years after they were wed. Afterward, she moved back in with her daughter Betty in Newcastle. 

"I can't seem to get well since he died," Ellamae said, but she tries to stay active.

"It's not funny getting old, but I guess you know you are old when even your doctor says so," Ellamae chuckled.

Ellamae enjoys playing Bingo. She and her daughter travel to Moore on Tuesdays to play. On Mondays and Fridays, she travels to Dibble to see her sons. 

Ellamae is a member of Cole Baptist Church and is able to attend on Sundays because James Carol Ferguson offers to drive her.

"I'll just like anybody I'll see. I'll talk to anybody. I don't care," Ellamae said. 

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By Darla Welchel

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Members of the Lions Clubs International have been prowling around Newcastle for the past couple of weeks hunting down community members interested in reestablishing a new Lions Club in Newcastle.

Marvin Ainsworth, Global Membership Team District Coordinator and Dawn Miller, Oklahoma State Secretary and District Governor, visited local businesses and city offices to sign up people for the new club.

“Lions meet the needs of local communities and the world. When you join Lions, you join a global service network. So, at the same time you’re doing local community service, you can also contribute to Lions volunteer efforts around the world,” stated the organizations website.

Ainsworth stressed the “we serve” mantra of the club.

“We have three teams in Newcastle today seeing how the Lions Club can help the community,” he said. “We are not here to take away from anything anyone else is doing, but to add.”

Newcastle used to have an active Lions Club many, many years ago, and its Ainsworth goal to see one here again. 

Jeannette Lore, President of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce said, “We don’t have a civic organization like this in Newcastle. They can do so many things that the chamber or the city can’t do, and they can step up and help complete ongoing projects.”

Lore pointed out the Lions Club do many things for communities like helping with parks projects, the schools and the senior citizen center; they also put on health screenings and they have a great eye glasses program. Another way they help the community is by volunteering at various community events.

In  order  for  the Lions Club to re-organize in Newcastle, they will need at least 20 members to sign up, Ainsworth said. So far, they are a few members short. The Lions Club is the world’s largest organization with 1.3 million members, but it is looking to add some younger adult members, he said.

“There is a tremendous need for the Lions Club,” he said. The only thing the Internet can’t replace is a couple of hands to do community service – for that you need people.”

To become a member of the Newcastle Lions Club requires a $10 a month membership fee. And although communication is mandatory, attendance to the bi-monthly meetings is no longer mandatory, Ainsworth said. 

“They do a broad spectrum  of things as an organization to help a community,” Lore said. “I am an official charter member of the Newcastle Lions Club.”

 The Lions Club is hoping to be able to use the community room located inside the library for their meetings. You can pick up an application at Stephanie’s Place located at 994 North Main or by calling Marvin Ainsworth at 819-1045. 

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Even though school is back in session and football will start soon, nothing let’s you know that fall is upon us like the annual Newcastle FFA Fall Livestock Show and Cake Auction.

This fun and tasty show will be on Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Newcastle Fair Barn. The show allows FFA students to showcase their livestock, while the Cake Auction is designed to raise much-needed funds for the program, said Ag teacher Brandon Morgan. 

Also, back by popular demand this year is the Booster Club’s Pig Poop raffle. One hundred squares will be sold at $10 each, and whichever square gets “pooped on,” wins, he said.

This year all animals are required to be in place in the barn by 4:30 p.m. on August 23. The Cake Auction will be held immediately following the livestock show. 

“There will be cattle, goats, swine, sheep and poultry exhibited at the show,” he said. “The cakes brought for the auction will also be judged with a prize given for best cake.”

Every exhibitor in the livestock show is required to bring two cakes, he said. The proceeds from the auction will go towards the upkeep of the Newcastle Fair Barn.

“All the cakes will be homemade by FFA and 4-H students and other adult supporters. In the past, cakes have sold beginning at $10 and gone up from there.”

The schedule for the day will go as follows:

4:30 p.m. - All animals in place

6:00 p.m. -  Poultry Show

6:00 p.m. -  Goat Show, Beef Show, Sheep Show and Swine Show

7:15 p.m. -  Cake Auction

In other FFA news, the Newcastle FFA will be selling Blue and Gold sausage, as well as T&D meats until September 3. Items available for order include sausage, bacon, chicken, hot links, sausage biscuits, sausage rolls, fajitas, salsa, turkeys and hams. If you would like to place an order and support the Newcastle FFA chapter, contact any FFA member. Orders can also be placed through Brandon Morgan or Aaron Aubrey at 387-6398 or 387-6399. 


Wednesday, 20 August 2014 16:50

Convenience store owner pleads guilty

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By Max Terrell

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Robert Dean Bell, 45, of Blanchard pled guilty in Federal Court on July 29, to possessing and transporting contraband cigarettes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bell admitted that he traveled from Oklahoma and Kansas City, Missouri, on various occasions between August 2011 and January 2012 to purchase untaxed cigarettes. Bell transported approximately 17,400 cartons of cigarettes into Oklahoma. 

It is estimated that the total amount of excise tax lost is $275,163. 

Under federal law, Bell may be sentenced up to five years in federal prison without parole and a fine of $250,000.

On January 21 Missouri State Highway Patrol stopped Bell and his girlfriend Suzanne Ruby, on the way to an undercover warehouse to purchase contraband cigarettes. After the arrest police seized $82,000 and a small amount of marijuana, according to the Department of Justice.

According to prosecutors, the Kansas State Highway Patrol had stopped Bell and Ruby just two months prior while they were on their way to another warehouse. The police seized $75,000, marijuana, and a firearm.

Bell was caught as part of an undercover investigation that involved multiple states and lead to the federal government seizing $266,000 from the bank account of a tobacco company owned by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, according to the Department of Justice.

The investigation also led to a New York wholesaler being detained and according to the U.S. Department of Justice must pay a 1 million dollar fine.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014 16:39

City officials take the plunge

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By Darla Welchel

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It was the size of a very large bathtub and it was filled to the top with cold water – very cold water. In fact, there was actually more ice than water in the tub.

Up steps one of Newcastle’s finest – dressed not in Kevlar and police blues, but in athletic shorts and a T-shirt. Without hesitation, steps into the tub, submerges their body and is doused with a bucket of more ice.


Not for these men and women who care more about their fallen brethren than they do for their own momentary comfort. 

The Newcastle Police Department have been posting these chilling videos of various department members taking the plunge as a part of the Cold Water Challenge initiated to raise money for the Officer Down Memorial Page. This fund is for officers hurt in the line of duty, or in the event of a fatality, for the family of an officer killed in the line of duty, said Chief of Police Gary Norman.

The Newcastle PD began posting these videos a couple of weeks ago starting with both Chief Norman and Assistant Chief Gary Boggess accepting the challenge and “paying it forward” if you will, to other officers in the department.

If challenged, officers, or other law enforcement related personnel have a set time to either accept the Cold Water Challenge, in which case, they would pay $10 and step into the ice bath themselves, or they can decline the challenge and pay $100 to the fund. 

Since the initial videos first appeared, the challenge has grown to include officers from other departments, as well as firefighters, City employees and the latest, Superintendent of Newcastle Schools Tony O’Brien.

With each public servant who accepts the challenge, between one and five more men and women are called out creating an exponential growth of very icy officers. In the short time since they became involved, the Newcastle Police Department has raised just over $400 to date, said Assistant Chief Boggess. 

Officer Down Memorial Page is a nationwide organization dedicated honoring these fallen heroes by helping their families. To learn more about the ODMP visit 

Friday, 01 August 2014 21:37

Boy Scout Troop 231: Doing A Good Deed

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By Darla Welchel

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On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;


To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.                                    

Boy Scout Promise



The Boy Scouts of Troop 231 take their pledge very seriously. In fact, at the beginning of the summer, they put those words into practice.

Last May, the Scouts and many adult leaders descended on the home of an elderly woman from Newcastle to do some much needed yard cleanup and maintenance said assistant Scout leader Mike Fullerton. 

"We had two tasks: First to clear the yard of debris, cut up the deadwood, fill in large holes and mow the yard, and secondly, to unload her garage of years of clutter and sort into three piles – things to keep, things to throw away and things to sell in a garage sale,” Fullerton said.

The Scouts were approached for help from community member Mary Petty, he said. The elderly woman has lived on the property for most of her life and recently lost her husband, he said.

“As Scoutmaster and on behalf of all of our leaders, we would like to say that we are very proud of all of our Scouts,” said Jonny Randall. “They worked diligently and hard to complete a daunting task.” 

The 13 Boy Scouts and 11 adult leaders worked for over eight hours on the two tasks, Fullerton said. 

“Part of being a Boy Scout is to be helpful,” he said. “The boys did a great job; I was very proud of them.”

The young men did all of the heavy lifting and moving of logs and debris, but the mowing with tractors had to be completed by an adult as per Scout regulations, he said. Jim Killiam, who is retired from the Air Force and a scout dad, did most of the mowing. 

In fact, Killiam and his son Billy, along with some other Scouts have been going back every few weeks to keep the grounds maintained, Fullerton said. 

“There is a need in our city for help like this for those who are unable to handle big jobs like this,” he said. We need to start a sort of network of people who can address these needs throughout the community. ”

The Scouts who helped one lady in need that day were: Griz Randall, Caleb Richard, Tyler Fullerton, Billy Killiam, Josh Thomas, Jon Johnson, Jacob Martin, Jacob Kuhlman, Connor Cavevtt, Devin Casias, Chris Law, Matthew Law and Mason Brasel.

The adult leaders and sponsors were: Troop Leader Jonny Randall, Assistant Troop Leader Mike Fullerton, Lee Kuhlman, Lee Donlon, Jim Killiam, David Richard,  Kim Law, Josh Thomas, Dawn Lemme, Trevor Fullerton and Heather from Summit Church. 

“We would like to also extend a special thank you to Ronald Kuhlman for the use of his farm tractor,” Fullerton said.

Randall concluded, “[The Scouts] expected nothing in return and were very fulfilled at the days end, not to mention, very tired. Our community can count on them at any time.”





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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 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."


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