By Darla Welchel
During last months City Council meeting, Sharon Ferguson announced her plans to retire at the end of this year.
Ferguson who has worked as the City’s treasureer since April 1987 said she wanted to give the City plenty of time to hire someone and help train that person. Also, she said she still has a lot to do before she retires, and she needs to "kind of work into it."
A lot has changed since she first walked into the City Hall, which was then located in the old First Baptist Church at the corner of Hwy 130 and Main.
"I had a little IBM 2-disk computer that I paid all the bills off of," Ferguson said. "Payroll was on one disk and the accounts payable was on the other, and Shirley Guffey was also paying water bills on it as well."
At that time, the City had just 25 employees, which did not include a paid fire department, she said. Today, there are 94 full and part time employees, as well as some volunteer reserve firefighters. In addition to Ferguson and Guffey, the City also employed two other women to run the office, Loycie Kerr was the City Clerk and Laura Minor was the court clerk.
"Between the four of us, we could tell you a lot about the city, streets, water lines, etc.," Ferguson said. "Glen Long was the interim City Manager, and he was good to work with. We had a good atmosphere to work in."
Her duties over the years have been to oversee the incoming and outgoing moneys to the City. She takes care of the daily deposits and pays all the bills, as well as doing the budget by herself until Assistant City Manager Kevin Self joined the staff and started helping her.
"A budget is hard; you never know when a [city] car will break down or is involved in a wreck or when there is going to be a natural disaster," she said
Although she will be officially retiring at the end of the year or the first of next – even she is not sure when she will leave her work home – Ferguson hopes to continue taking care on the Newcastle Cemetery, she said. She has overseen its operation since it opened in 2010.
"I have been the one since day one to sell lots, arrange for burials and make sure the cemetery was taken care of," she said. "I was in the cheering section when the council started talking about the cemetery, and mine was the first lot purchased."
When she does retire, Ferguson plans do more sewing; she loves to work on her Christmas quilt projects, and she also does a few alterations for friends and family. She plans to spend time visiting family, but what she is really looking forward to, is traveling with her old chorus group watching them perform.
"I used to sing with Sassy Quarter, a Sweet Adeline International Quartet for about six years. I also sang with Sooner Sensations Chorus, Spirit of Oklahoma Chorus and the OKC City Chorus," Ferguson said.
Ferguson sang with the Sweet Adelines for 24 years and still enjoys supporting them.
"We would go to regional contest; we did place in the top ten one year. I no longer sing with a chorus, but I go to the international contest when OKC Chorus is competing. This fall, they are going to Baltimore and I'm excited about this trip," she said. "We have a tour scheduled for Washington D.C., a place I have never been."
Ferguson has enjoyed seeing how much Newcastle has changed over the years and says that is part of what she will miss the most.
"I will miss knowing about the growth of Newcastle and seeing some of the old-times. I don't get to see too many people where my office is located now, but I still get to see a lot of people that I have known for years," she said.
She said the people that work for the city are a good crew.
"The street, water, police, firemen, dispatchers, sewer and city hall have great crews working for the citizens and are all devoted to the city," she said. "I will miss coming to work every morning and having a cup of coffee that Michael makes for me."
By Cody Johnson
The recognized Golden Spotlight for the month of September is Virginia Sorrels. Virginia was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1941.
"My mama always said 'I was the one that started World War II,' because they broke the mold, and when Japan found out I was born, four days later they said 'we can't take it.'"
Virginia's father was stationed in Pearl Harbor during the bombing but was on one of the few destroyer ships to survive, although she was too young to remember it at the time.
When she was ten, her family moved to Tampa, Fla. where she graduated from Hillsboro High School.
"After two tries, I finally found the man of my dreams," Virginia said in her sweet Georgia accent.
She was wed to Elton Lee Sorrels in 1975, and the couple moved to Mesquite Texas. Elton worked for the Dana Corporation until he retired, and the couple began traveling around the United States and Canada in an R.V. They ended up traveling for seven years.
"When we went down to the Tampa area, there was a band that we joined in with. We were known as the Generics," Virginia chuckled, "because all of us were on generic medicine of some kind."
She was a singer while Elton played the guitar along with several other people who played instruments.
The Sorrels stopped traveling in 2004 after Elton developed Alzheimer’s and became gravely ill with Parkinson’s. The couple came to Newcastle, despite Virginia wanting to spend retirement in Florida, because his daughter and son-in-law lived here.
Elton passed away in 2009 and had his brain donated for medical research.
"He said if he can help make a discovery for Parkinson that he wanted to do that," she said with pride in her voice. She now has a lifetime lease at her home in Oklahoma.
This spunky young lady has not slowed down at all in her golden years. She goes out dancing three nights a week to twirl, dip and shake all over the dance floor.
"I love it all," she said before the question was even finished being asked. "I like ballroom, country, and now I'm taking square dancing lessons here at the library on Tuesday nights. It's great exercise, and if it's got a beat, I can do it," she said as her laugh filled the room.
Virginia frequents the Forty and Eight Dance Club along with The American Legion, because they have live bands and no smoking.
Her smile could not stop showing as she talked about her church, The Newcastle Christian church, which she said has wonderful kids' programs.
"I gave up that [working with kids], when I became old," she said through a soft laugh.
Virginia's sense of joy for life and humorous personality came through in every word she spoke.
"I'm feisty for 72," she said with a serious look on her face before she broke into a laugh.
She claims playing dominos with the men at the senior center helps keep her mind sharp, and it shows when she speaks.
"The food is out-of-this-world there [talking about the senior center], of course it is though it's government funded," she said.
With a proud tone in her voice, she spoke of her brother Jimmy Dunn who was too small to be looked at for college football until the championship game in Gainesville his senior year.
"The used to call him 'Spider Dunn'," she laughed.
Jimmy Dunn ended up with a full ride after that game and played quarterback for the University of Florida Gators from 1957 to 1960. Every week Virginia watches the Gators play during football season.
"I'm a Gators fan in Sooner territory," she proudly said. "No, I like the Sooners; until they play the Gators."
With every sentence her life screamed of excitement.
"I'm like a soap opera. The only thing in my life that has not happened is, I don't know anyone that’s been murdered," she laughed. "I have even joined match.com. I have gotten a lot of free dinners from there."
By Darla Welchel
National 4-H week is October 6-11. This is a time to promote 4-H and garner new members.
Newcastle currently has a very active 4-H club and would love to have more members, said 4-H leader Tammy Elliott.
"4-H is an amazing organization that you do not have to be a gifted or talented person to do or even be good at," Elliott said.
The mission of the 4-H Youth Development Program is to provide Oklahoma youth, families, and communities with educational programs, which will create environments for diverse audiences of youth and adults to reach their fullest potential. In support of this mission 4-H will:
Provide community based experimential learning through clubs, school enrichment, special interest programs, and mass media.
Help youth develop skills that will benefit them throughout life.
Foster leadership and volunteerism for youth and adults.
Build internal and external partnerships for programming and resource development.
Strengthen families and communities.
Use research-based knowledge and the land grant university system and other sources.
Oklahoma is a national leader in developing youths’ abilities to become productive citizens and catalysts for positive change to meet the needs of a diverse and changing society. Through 4-H youth development education, youth will:
Feel valued and empowered as a resource in the community.
Practice effective problem-solving and decision making skills.
Be environmental stewards. Demonstrate positive character and ethical behavior.
Appreciate human differences. Have a strong sense of community and social responsibility.
Contribute to positive relationships with families, peers, and community.
Demonstrate communication and leadership skills.
Value lifelong learning.
Feel the personal pride that comes from achievement.
By Darla Welchel
Do you have old computers, VHS recorders, phones and other electronics just sitting around collecting dust?
You want to throw them away, but where?
Now is your chance to unload all those broken down unwanted pieces of electronics and appliances. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the City of Newcastle's Public Works facility (717 N. Walker), United Electronic Recycling, LLC will be holding and Electronic Recycling disposal event.
"United Electronic Recycling will recycle any equipment that has a plug or requires batteries," said UER Account Manager, Byron Conley. "We also provide data destruction of all hard drives received."
The recycling company is both R2 and HIPAA Compliant and meets the stringent needs for data security disposal.
There is a disposal fee of $5 for each CRT monitor and $20 for each television set, he said. Businesses with bulk amounts of material may qualify for a free pickup, and are asked to email and inventory list or photograph of the material.
4-D Corporation will also be there to take tires. Only "road tires" will be accepted, no agricultural or offroad tires, and they cannot be on rims or wheels, Conley said.
This event is for all residents and businesses in the Newcastle area, and residents are required to show a current City of Newcastle utility bill.
The first ever Racer Dye color run was a huge - colorful - success, said race organizer RaeAnn Thomas.
"I would like to say that I was overwhelmed with the community support and enthusiasm that we had for this event," Thomas said.
Around 300 runners, walkers and scooter riders and over 200 volunteers and supporters filled the Newcastle Middle School parking lot last Saturday morning before 8:30 a.m. for the 5K race.
Not your typical marathon, this one was all about the fun. Even before the runners lined up for the start, they were showering each other with colored powder in every color of the rainbow. Each runner received a t-shirt, sunglasses and packets of harmless hippie powder to help them enjoy the day.
Prior to the start of the 3-mile run – although some chose to cut some time off their run with a detour – the runners participated in one big Color Bomb where they drenched each other in pink, orange, red, green and purple powder, Thomas said.
As the runners made the loop from the middle school west to Wright Street, up Fox Lane and back to Walker Ave., the volunteers at the Color Stations bombarded the runners with even more color, she said. By the time a runner completed the circuit, the hippie powder was really sticking to their sweat-soaked clothes.
"We had a ton of volunteers including most of my staff at Physical Therapy Central, the Newcastle Public Library, the Newcastle wrestlers along with Coach Hale and several other businesses. We had incredible support from our Corporate Sponsors and the City of Newcastle and couldn't have done it without them," she said.
Crossing the finish line, the runners were met by a host of people enjoying the race, as well as the fun music and DJ provided by the Newcastle Casino, Thomas said.
"I love this event as it is a way to not only get people involved and bring awareness to the great city of Newcastle, but it also allows us to promote health and wellness in a fun and exciting way. I am passionate about health and wellness education, particularly to our young people, and what better way to do that than to lead by example. If they see us and their parents and friends being active and having fun doing it, they will follow suit," she said.
The organizers are already planning next year's Racer Dye 2015 and will build on the success of this year's event, Thomas said.
"We want more runners, more vendors and sponsors, and more fun things to do surrounding this event. It looked like everyone was having such a great time they didn't want to leave," she said. "I had an incredible time planning the event over the last six months with Jeannette Lore, who has brought an incredible energy to our community!"
By Cody Johnson
The Newcastle Fire Department held their third annual Firehouse Santa clay target shooting competition last Friday at Quail Ridge Sporting Complex.
The event was a huge success with 15 teams making up 60 shooters from surrounding businesses and fire departments.
"I think it was really successful today. We had five more teams than we have ever had before," NFD Captain Andy Campbell said.
Lieutenant Tony Samaniego said they moved it a little earlier in the year compared to their date last year. Last year it was cold in the morning and then got nice around the time everyone was finishing up. He thinks it worked out better this year with the warmer weather.
The courses were in a wooded area off the beaten path. As the trail made its way through the trees, clearings on each side would appear. Twenty yards wide and seventy-five yards long, each course had a wooden platform for the shooter to stand on, as an automatic target thrower would send clay sailing through the air at different angles and distances.
Each person was chanced with 100 clay targets to shoot at and teams were made up of four people at each station.
By 1 p.m., teams made their way back to the pavilion next to the main office. Ted's had provided lunch for everyone in the tournament and trophies were stacked on a table. Some prizes included a Mossberg shotgun, Yeti cooler and a night’s stay at Riverwind Hotel.
The shooters began to eat and waited for the results to be announced.
As expected they embarrassed the person with the lowest score first, but his shame shall remain hidden to those in attendance at the tournament.
"And the top shooter award goes to... Allen Moore with a score of 87 out of 100," Lieutenant Tony Samaniego announced.
Moore shot his way ahead of Randy Harnsberger by one target and was four targets ahead of third place finisher Gage Billeg. It was no surprise Moore’s team made up of Justin Rowe, Cody Hames, and Derald McConnell won the top team award with 275 combined targets shot.
This tournament was not only for males though, the top female team award went to Jessie Campbell, Anjuli Smith, Veronika Walters and Robyn Taylor for 171 combined targets shot.
"This is the third year for the skeet shoot the two previous, we have had 10 teams and between 5 to 8 lane sponsors. Next year our goal is 20 teams and 15 lane sponsors," Campbell said. "I really want to thank this year’s tournament sponsors: First National Bank, Ardor Solutions, Horn Equipment, Thru Tubing, Riverwind Hotel, Community Bank, Waste Connections, Wal-mart, Smoking and Tri-City trophies among others who have donated so much."
All the proceeds from the tournament go to supplement the Newcastle Public Schools Angel Trees. Any leftover children off the Angel Trees after the students choose their Angel are then taken by the NFD, he said. The money from Firehouse Santa is then divided and given to the Angel Tree children's families.
By Darla Welchel
The town of Newcastle lost one of its oldest citizens last week. Paulene Ida (Bass) Harryman passed away on Thursday, September 18 at the age of 101.
Although I did not know her as well as many others in our community, I will never forget this indomitable lady.
I was working on the history book for Newcastle, and everyone I spoke with said, you need to interview Ms. Paulene, she’s been here a long time.
When I met Paulene Harryman, she was already 93; she was born August 2, 1913. But I did not find a frail old woman; I found a plucky lively spirit, who was still mowing her own lawn – with a push mower!
Paulene wasn't just an older Newcastle resident; she had lived here almost her entire life. She witnessed more than most as she watched her hometown grow, struggle and succeed. She moved to Newcastle in 1921 with her family – parents Cora and Clarence Bass and siblings Viola, Ernest and Clell – in the back of her father's Model T.
Paulene attended primary school at Old Newcastle School and after a short time, her teacher, Jessie Barefoot, realized that she needed to move at a faster pace. She soon completed three grade levels. She told me that it wasn’t because she was "that smart," it was that she learned while her mother taught her older brothers. I personally think she was "that smart."
She graduated in 1931 as the class Valedictorian and soon after leaving high school she married her sweetheart, Vencil Harryman on October 10, 1932 in Oklahoma City. City life wasn't for Ms. Paulene and they soon moved back to her beloved Newcastle.
She was first and foremost a homemaker and raised her family in this town, but she also worked along side her husband first in farming and then in the Harryman Insurance Agency.
Although Paulene was involved in many community activities, such as a supporter of the Newcastle FFA, what she was most passionate about was her church, Newcastle First Baptist Church, which she was a member for 89 years.
The reason I wanted to talk to this sweet lady about the history of Newcastle was because, in a town where written records were few and far between, Paulene's passion for journaling and keeping records was invaluable. She had scrapbooks of old photos and news clippings dating back to the mid-1920s.
Because of time constraints, I was not able to pour over this treasure trove of information, but I hope that someday I might be delve into the records about the town Paulene loved. She was a force to be reckoned with and this town will feel her passing.
To read more about this amazing woman and pillar of our community, please read her obituary and a tribute written by her pastor, Jeremy Freeman in the Newcastle Pacer hardcopy.
By Darla Welchel
You won't want to miss the chance to Blast the Boomers during the 2014 Newcastle Homecoming Parade on Oct. 3.
This year's event is sponsored by the City of Newcastle in partnership with the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, said Chamber President Jeannette Lore. Lineup begins at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Newcastle Library on Veterans Parkway, with the parade starting at 1:30 p.m., rain or shine.
The parade will run north on Veterans Parkway, east on NW 14th to Main Street and travel south to the high school.
All participants must adhere to this year's theme - Blast the Boomers and need to check-in with the parade coordinators on time; late arrivals will be placed at the back of the line, Lore said.
This year, for safety reasons, parade entrants may only pass out candy on the west side of the floats and vehicles. An adult must supervise all children under the age of 18 at all times during the parade, she said.
Immediately following the parade, the Newcastle student council will be hosting its annual carnival. To date, there is no information on this yearly fun activity.
For a complete list of rules and a copy of the parade route, contact Lore at 387-3232.
By Darla Welchel
In order to make the Racer Dye 2014 more fun and safe, organizers have changed the route for the first ever 5K-color run.
The new route will begin at the Newcastle Middle School at 611 E. Fox Lane and stay east of Main Street, said Chamber President Jeannette Lore. Originally the run was to begin at Veterans Park and run south up US 62.
Also new are two options for runners, she said.
"Everyone will start in the parking lot of the middle school," Lore said. "They will travel west down 2nd street, go south on Wright and then east on Fox lane. When they get to Walker they can decide to be a true athlete and do the three-mile to Portland or turn north and do the two-mile option."
Lore said the three-milers wouldn't miss any of the color fun if they decide to complete the 5K challenge. There are multiple color stations where volunteers will "shower" runners with the special Hippie Powder – a non-toxic, food grade colored cornstarch. Also, the chamber has procured 1,200 color packets to hand out to the runners.
"At the start, everyone will have color packets, and we will do one giant color bomb," she said. "The runners will also be given individual color packets, so they can bomb the other runners, their friends and just have a lot of fun."
If you haven't signed up to run in this year's Racer Dye 2014, it is not too late, The event is being held this Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., with early packet pickup still taking place from 4-7 p.m. at the Newcastle Community Center.
For more information contact Jeannette Lore at 387-3232 or the Racer Dye Color Run/Walk Facebook page.
By Darla Welchel
Two students in the Newcastle 4-H club brought home the gold during the Oklahoma 4-H Dog Show at the State Fair this past week.
Senior Jackie Elliott and freshman Taylor Elliott both represented their 4-H club during the dog show, and both girls and their dogs came away with top honors, said 4-H leader Tammy Elliott.
Jackie, age 17, showed her English Pointer, Stone, and her younger sister Taylor, age 14, showed Oliver a black Labradoodle. Jackie and Stone won gold medals in Showmanship and Rally, and Taylor and Oliver brought home a gold in Showmanship and a bronze in Obedience.
"Competing in 4-H is a really unique experience," Jackie Elliott said. "When I show my dog, winning is great, and it gives that 'Yes. Look at this, look what I've accomplished,' feeling. But failure isn't a set back, because when you are part of the 4-H family, everyone is pushing and striving for the same thing: to make the best better. So you may fail this time, but you can take that experience and use it to advance yourself next time, and you know that your 4-H family is going to be there encouraging you the entire time."
Both girls attend Newcastle High School and are active members in the Newcastle 4-H Club. Jackie is the 4-H State Recreation Leader. They are also involved in the McClain County club, ASAP – Amazing Small Animal Projects, which meets in Newcastle.
On Sept. 21, Jackie and Stone started volunteering at the Newcastle Library as part of the Read to Therapy Dogs program. Stone recently was certified as a therapy dog.
"It is an amazing program that we are lucky enough to have here at our Newcastle Library where kids come and read to the dog," Tammy Elliot said. "Thanks to Jackie's work with Stone as her 4-H dog project, they are now certified and qualify to take part in the program."
Both girls will take their four-legged, tail wagging projects to compete at the Tulsa Fair on Oct. 5.