OKLAHOMA CITY – The following
is the text of Governor
Mary Fallin’s 2015 Inaugural Address,
as prepared for delivery:
Elected offi cials, members of
the court, tribal leaders, distinguished
guests, and citizens of the
great state of Oklahoma, it is with
a deep sense of honor and humility
that I stand here today to accept
the opportunity to serve a second
term as your governor.
Before I begin I want to take a
moment to recognize my devoted
family: my loving and supportive
husband Wade, our wonderful and
talented children, and our family
and friends, without whom we
would not be here today. Thank
you for your love, support and
prayers over the years.
Four years ago I stood here to
be sworn in for the fi rst time.
It was a historic occasion, and I
was proud and honored to serve as
Oklahoma’s fi rst female governor.
As I came into offi ce, I was very
much aware, as The Bible tells us,
that to whom much is given, much
We faced serious challenges.
Despite the hard work of governors
and legislatures that had
come before me, our economy had
taken a huge hit because of the national
had climbed to seven percent. We
had –literally – only $2.03 left in
our state savings account.
Many Oklahomans and many
state agencies were going through
a tough time.
When I came into offi ce, I promised
to get our economy back on
track and families back on their
feet. I was lucky to have a newly
elected, energetic and conservative
Legislature, equally committed
to that task.
To those legislators here today:
serving in public offi ce requires
dedication and sacrifi ce. I would
like to thank you, and all of our
elected offi cials, for your service.
Together, we worked hard to
help move Oklahoma forward. I
believe the story of the last four
years will be the story of an economy
lifted out of one of the deepest
recessions our state and our nation
has ever faced.
We have seen:
•An unemployment rate that
went from over 7 percent to just
•103,000 new jobs created, and
the fourth-fastest growing economy
in the nation
•Oklahomans earning more,
with a per capita income rising by
15 percent – the second highest
rate in the U.S.
•The highest rate of job creation
in the manufacturing sector
in the country in 2013, helping to
power a record high in Oklahoma
exports of goods
•And a Rainy
Day Savings Account
from almost nothing
to over $530
let’s be proud of
what we accomplished.
Let’s be proud of
Oklahoma’s construction boom,
the new 50-story building on the
Oklahoma City skyline and the
plans for even more high rises. Our
capital city was just named one of
the top 20 travel destinations in
the world by National Geographic,
alongside exotic locations like the
Swiss Alps and Taiwan.
Let’s also be proud of the strong
and sustainable growth in downtown
Tulsa and the ongoing transformation
of the city by projects
like The Gathering Place. In fact,
the New York Times just listed
Tulsa as one of the Top 50 places
in the world to visit, listed right between
Rome and Shanghai.
Let’s celebrate the great quality
of life, the growth and the beauty
of the towns that make up rural
Let’s be proud to be home to an
agricultural sector that is feeding
the country; an energy industry
that is powering the nation’s cars
and heating its homes and businesses;
medical facilities doing
groundbreaking research for cancer
and diabetes treatments; and
an aerospace industry that is developing
the technology we need
to protect our nation and further
commerce and trade. Let’s be
proud of the beauty of our great
outdoors, our lakes and land.
Above all, let’s be proud that
Oklahomans are a special people.
Every time we are challenged as
a state, we see neighbor helping
In May 2013, when central Oklahoma
was struck by devastating
tornadoes, the world was inspired
by the bravery, compassion and
generosity of our people as they
worked to help families who, in
some cases, had just lost everything.
The nation and the world saw
our strength and spirit, and we
became known as “Oklahoma
I have seen the sheer determination
of the people of Oklahoma;
and I know they can rise to meet
Today we must recommit ourselves
and our state to meeting
the challenges in front of us, to
protecting our freedoms and liberties,
and to acting as a successful
laboratory for democracy.
We have worked hard to create a
friendlier business climate and to
become a better state in which
to invest, build a business and
create jobs. We know that the
best way to lift people out of
poverty is to provide them with
a good education and a good
job, so we must continue to
pursue the pro-growth reforms
that have helped to jumpstart
We must also continue to
reform outdated and ineffi cient
government programs to deliver
quality services to our customers:
We must continue to improve
programs that protect our citizens
and offer care to the most vulnerable.
And we must continue to teach
our children the value of hard
work and personal responsibility.
Those are the values that lead to
success and a great future.
We have worked hard on all these
fronts to set a new course for Oklahoma,
to build a stronger economy
and a better state government. But
now it’s important to look inward
and ask, “How can we do better?
What’s holding us back? And what
are the challenges remaining not
just over the next four years, but
over the next 40, that we must address
to ensure our fellow Oklahomans
and their children can
achieve their dreams?” And yes,
we know as we do this work there
will be setbacks; but setbacks are
opportunities for comebacks.
There are three areas that we
must resolve to make a priority,
areas that we must improve or risk
stifl ing our forward momentum:
educational attainment, over-incarceration,
When we ask – how can we
ensure long term prosperity in
Oklahoma? – the most important
answer is educational attainment.
Oklahoma must raise its high
school graduation rates and award
more career technology certifi -
cates and college degrees.
Individuals need to have marketable
work skills to fl ourish in
today’s economy. Businesses need
skilled and educated individuals to
succeed, grow and expand.
Increasing educational attainment
is about creating more and
better Oklahoma jobs. It’s also
about providing a way out of poverty.
Education beyond high school
is absolutely “the new minimum”
for success in the workforce. If
we can increase our educational
attainment as a state, we will benefi
t from everything from higher
earnings to less crime, less teen
pregnancy, and less reliance on
government aid, saving taxpayers
Speaking of increasing educational
attainment, I want to congratulate
and offer my sincere
thank you to our friends in higher
education for successfully implementing
the fi rst stages of Oklahoma’s
Complete College America
program. Over the last two years,
we’ve increased the number of college
degrees and career technology
certifi cates awarded by over
6,500. And over the last fi ve years,
we have increased STEM – or science,
technology, engineering and
math – degrees by 27 percent,
helping to improve the quality of
our workforce and providing more
Oklahomans with the skills they
need for high-tech, high-paying
We have great teachers, professors
and educators who are absolutely
dedicated to their students
and their profession.
I believe in those educators. I believe
they can rise to the challenge
and fi nd innovative ways to teach
our students and help us meet and
exceed student achievement goals.
Educators are important, and they
deserve our thanks. Our children
will spend at least 12 years of their
lives with their teachers, and we
need to work with them to improve
student learning and deliver better
In the last four years, we’ve already
worked to deliver more accountability
and transparency in
public education while focusing
on early childhood literacy. As
our economy has grown stronger
in recent years, we have been able
to put $150 million of increased
funding back into K-12 schools.
Oklahoma’s commitment to public
education is strong; in fact, 51
cents of every dollar now goes toward
But the fact remains we need to
do more. We need to improve, and
This is an all-hands-on-deck
challenge. It requires an allhands-
on-deck solution. Together
– as parents, teachers, lawmakers,
and even the business community
– we need to do the work and get
Second, another issue which
year after year holds back our
state, breaks apart our families
and leads to poverty is crime and
Let me be clear: community and
personal safety will always be a top
priority. Anyone who is a threat to
those around them must be locked
up, and violent criminals must be
in prison. Nothing about that will
But here’s the sad truth: many
of our inmates are non-violent offenders
with drug abuse and alcohol
They don’t need to spend long tints at the state penitentiary,
where they can join gangs and
acquire criminal networks.
They need treatment; they
need supervision; and they
need to be returned to their
communities as sober adults
ready to support themselves
and their families. Some of
these individuals are already
benefi ting from successful
like ReMerge and Women in
Recovery that are transforming
lives and making a difference.
That’s a “smart on crime”
approach and it’s a conservative
approach. There is a
smarter way to help someone
who is addicted to prescription
pain pills than to have
them sit in a jail cell with little
or no access to treatment.
And for those who suffer
from mental illness, we need
to offer help and counseling
to get them healthy and to
divert them from our prison
In this next legislative session,
I am committed to working
with our legislators to redouble
our efforts to pursue
smart-on-crime solutions and
offer common-sense paths
to help people with mental
health and substance abuse
problems get their lives back
We must work together
collectively and individually
to improve the health of the
state and our citizens. We
may not all agree on how to
create better access to care,
lower medical costs, and
provide greater choices for
individuals and businesses
shopping for insurance plans.
These are all important goals,
but I believe we can agree on
the importance of encouraging
to improve one’s health. We
need to do a better job educating
people about why this
is important, and what they
can do to get healthier.
Poor health outcomes are
destroying our quality of life,
leading to thousands of unnecessary
deaths each year,
and costing taxpayers and
businesses a tremendous
amount of money.
It is time to face these hard
truths and take responsibility
for these outcomes as a state
and as individuals.
We are too good of a people
to allow ourselves to continue
to be the worst state in the
nation for prescription drug
abuse, or for one-in-10 Oklahomans
to have diabetes,
or for the state to be ranked
seventh-worst in the nation
for obesity and sixth-worst in
I know we can improve; but
state government can’t do it
alone. All of us can fi nd ways
to help and participate. Oklahomans
have worked hard to
develop an Oklahoma Health
Improvement Plan with great
coalitions and partners. For
example, I’ve been proud to
partner with Kevin Durant on
the Governor’s Get Fit Challenge.
Kevin and I launched
that program, in partnership
with our schools, which is
working to get our children
up and moving through exercise
and proper nutrition.
The state has increased
resources for mental health
treatment and substance
abuse prevention programs
that have proven to be successful;
but we need to do
In the coming months I will
continue to work with health
providers, employers and lawmakers
to make inroads that
will make a real and immediate
difference in the lives
of Oklahomans and chart a
better course for the health of
We need to set the bar high
for that work. One of the big
indicators of overall health –
because it is so closely linked
to smoking, obesity, and nutrition
– is prevalence of heart
disease. Let’s set an aggressive
goal: to reduce heart
disease deaths in Oklahoma
by 25 percent between now
and 2025. If we are successful,
and I believe we will be,
that alone will save over 2,400
lives every year.
I am excited and optimistic
for the next four years, but
our goal should be to lay a
stronger foundation to grow
our state and improve our
quality of life for decades to
Collectively, we should all
commit to working together
so Oklahoma will be a place
where our children and
their children can stay and
fi nd great opportunities in
healthy, strong and safe communities;
a place where they
can pursue their dreams, get
a good education and a goodpaying
We can make that happen,
by learning from our past
successes, while honestly
confronting the challenges in
front of us.
Although we know there
will always be ups and downs
in our economy, we’ve successfully
pushed through the
last recession by pursuing fi scally
responsible policies focused
on right-sizing government
while pursuing private
sector job growth.
Today is no different. Tomorrow
offers us a new day
with bold ideas and possibilities
to dream big dreams for
There are many things we
know we must do to keep our
state moving forward, but increasing
and improving health
outcomes are three, which
directly impact our quality of
Every parent wants their
children to have more opportunities
than they did. I know
I do. If that is going to happen,
we must work to address
I have great confi dence in
Oklahomans and our lawmakers,
and I’m excited to work
together to usher in another
generation of prosperity and
forward momentum to make
Oklahoma the best place to
live, work and raise a family
for generations to come.
Thank you, and God Bless Oklahoma!
By Darla Welchel
Long time city employee Sharon Ferguson received
a standing ovation and a plaque for 27 years of
service during the fi rst few minutes of the monthly
meeting of the Newcastle Public Works Authority
and City Council on Monday.
Ferguson, who recently retired, was honored for
her years of dedication and service as the Newcastle
City Treasurer; her replacement, Kimberly Coffman,
attended her fi rst meeting as acting Treasurer.
Ferguson has been training Coffman for the past
Election for Council seats
During the council meeting, members of the
council voted to accept a resolution for “Notice of
Election” for two seats on the City Council. Wayne
McDoulett from Ward 1 and Gene Reid from Ward 2
will both be running for re-election.
The “nonpartisan” general election will be held on
April 7, 2015. Anyone interested in running for these
offi ces can fi le at the Purcell County Election board
at 121 North 2nd Ave., Room 101. Filing for the Newcastle
City Council seats will take place on February
2-4 and all interested parties must apply in person.
Call the election board at
527-3121 for more information about fi ling.
Economic Development Report
Jeannette Lore, President and Chief Executive
Offi cer of the Newcastle Chamber of
Commerce gave a report of the past and future
economic development of Newcastle.
Lore began her report talking about the
ICSC Conference for economic development
she and other members of the City attended
last year. This event gave the City a chance
to approach businesses, developers and land
brokers to give them information about Newcastle.
“The objective was to meet as many potential
businesses to get Newcastle on their Radar,” Lore told The Pacer later.
She reported that at the conference they
talked to Dollar Tree and discovered that the
economy store was already looking at the city
for possibly one of their next builds.
“We might not be there yet,” she said. “Some
of these businesses pick out their next location
four to six years in advance.”
She also mentioned Chili’s 2, a smaller version
of the popular restaurant chain that is
geared to smaller markets. Lore said she gave
them Newcastle’s information in hope that
they would look at the city. She asked them to
look at more than the city’s demographics – to
look at things like drive through traffic.
Lore warned just because a company might
be looking at the town, doesn’t mean they will
ever expand here.
“They may never come. Just because you
meet their criteria doesn’t mean they will
come,” she said. “They are very cautious. We
are giving them as much information as we
can to get them to look at us.”
She also reported that the chamber has
been showcasing Newcastle with new events
like the color run and the Easter egg hunt,
which will be expanding this year with over
20,000 eggs. Events like these help showcase
Newcastle, not only to potential new citizens,
but also new businesses. But, they also help
She spoke about how the how the newer
building on Main Street could help the façade
of the whole town.
“New buildings on Main Street have a ‘trickle
down’ effect, which encourages other business
owners to improve their building. Growth
is happening,” Lore said. “Its not going to happen
overnight, but it is coming. My objective is
to make it as seamless as possible.”
Other City News
Newcastle’s Community Development Director
Ian Crittenden gave a recommendation
from the Parks and Recreation an Beautifi cation
Board to replace the swing set in Leesa
Cornett Park and add a set to Veterans Park.
The swings would be a two-bay set, which
hold four swings each. This proposal would
also include enlarging the enclosures around
the sets and putting down wood chips, Crittenden
said. The cost of the swing set is around
He also recommended purchasing trees for
some of the parks in the amount of $3,000 to
$4,000. There are a few trees that have died in
both the cemetery and in Veterans Park that
need replacing and the Parks Board want to
add trees to Veterans Park, Crittenden said.
The council also approved rezoning property
belonging to Jamie Lynn and Timothy Mc-
Comas from agriculture to E-2 Urban Estate
Residential. The unplatted property located
at 2041 West Hwy 130 is named Newcastle
Concerning Public Works, two citizens
brought requests to the council to forgive
large amounts of unexplained water usage or
usage; the council saw evidence that both incidents
were beyond the customers control and
adjusted their bill.
By Darla Welchel
The City of Newcastle has been very busy in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas and New Years.
Following its December City Council meeting, many developments have taken place during the past several weeks.
Most recently, the City swore in Kimberly Coffman to the office of Treasurer for the City of Newcastle on Monday, January 5, 2015. Coffman, who has been working with former treasurer Sharon Ferguson, began training several weeks ago and was hired after a substantial search, said City Manager Nick Nazar. (More on Coffman in next week’s edition of The Pacer)
Many residents will have noticed the deconstruction of one of its “old haunts” as demolition began on the old Sonic Drive-in turned Donut Palace on Saturday, Jan. 3.
The council had discussed possibly declaring the property located at 1117 North Main St. as dilapidated and proceeding with Abatement of Property actions during it last meeting in December, Nazar said. This move would have allowed the City to take down the eyesore after giving the owners, Newcastle Sub LLC, proper notice.
The council had agreed to give them six months if they would paint the outside and board up the windows, Nazar said. But the company decided that it would be more cost effective to bring someone in to demolish the building instead of boarding it up.
“They came into City Hall looking for a demo permit,” he said. “City Hall doesn’t require a permit to demo. The owner said he wanted it down before Christmas, but it would more likely come down after the first of the year.”
Also, council members authorized Mayor Karl Nail to submit a letter to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to request approval for the City of Newcastle to move forward with the traffic light at Hwy 37 and Country Club.
Even with the updated census and traffic flow numbers for Newcastle, the soonest ODOT would approve a traffic signal would be 2017, Nazar said. The council felt like that was too long to wait on federal money to help pay for the $67,620 traffic light.
“We are willing to pay 100 percent of the light,” he said. “We believe they will allow us to proceed.”
If ODOT gives its go ahead, the City expects the soonest they could have the project completed would be the fall of 2015.
“We believe it will substantially improve the safety of Tri-City as well as for residents on Country Club by allowing gaps in traffic,” Nazar said.
In other City news, the long debated annexation of property near the Manor Lake Hills subdivision and the subsequent waterline expansion project on Western Avenue came to an end when the council voted to approve the annexation and to set the waterline project up to go out for bids, he said.
Nazar expects the engineer will have everything completed to submit to the ODEQ around January 12. But the council gave the city permission to submit the project out for bids right after the New Year,
The City recently took delivery of a 2014 420F Warren Caterpillar backhoe and loader. The new piece of equipment came in just over $84,000 and was financed on a three-year term state contract, he said. The City Council approved the purchase during its December meeting. The City traded in a 2003 John Deere backhoe and received, $16,500 trade in.
The next City Council Meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Newcastle Community Center.
By Darla Welchel
On December 18, 2014, Sergeant Greg Grover bid farewell to his friends and colleagues at the Newcastle Police Department.
Grover and his K-9 partner, Jesse were treated to a retirement party at the storm shelter to honor their years of service. Grover has served Newcastle full time since 2003 and as a reserve officer three years prior. Jesse joined as Grover’s partner in 2006.
Since Jesse is getting up in dog years, he is now 70, the 10 year old narcotics specialist was retired along with his human partner.
In fact, Grover said the best part of his job was when he got to pick out his K-9 partner and accompanied him to Texas for special training. As they were specifically trained for narcotics detection and retrieval, Grover lists any case with his four-legged partner as his most interesting.
Grover was a Field Training Officer and enjoyed preparing rookie patrolmen for the task of taking care of the Newcastle Community. But what he enjoyed most about being part of the NPD was the brotherhood amongst the officers, he said.
He also said he was drawn to a career in law enforcement through the officers he met while working as a reserve and that he enjoyed what they did and saw this as an exciting career.
Grover was born and raised in Newcastle. In fact, his family heritage can be traced back to the beginning of Newcastle’s history.
He graduated in 1988 from Newcastle High School, and before he became a police officer, he farmed his family farm. Grover married his sweetheart Kristine, and he has four children.
Now that he is retired from law enforcement, Grover plans to teach classes at his shooting school and sell produce from his farm at the Farmer’s Market. In his spare time, he will also indulge in a couple of his other passions – hunting, fishing and shooting sports.
By Darla Welchel
During the lengthy November 10 City Council meeting, numerous items were discussed.
In addition to approving the annexation of property located near Western Ave. on Hwy 9 (see Nov. 13 Pacer article), the council voted to purchase and finance a new hydraulic excavator for the public works department.
Often times, it is difficult or impossible to get the larger equipment into the smaller spaces. The compact piece of equipment would allow the water department to dig in customer’s back yards with much better ease, said City Manager Nick Nazar.
The excavator comes with a price tag of $52,486, and the council voted to finance the purchase for 36 months, he said.
“We have the cash to pay for this right now, but our major concern is if the economy will continue to do as well [as it has],” Nazar said.
The city’s sales tax revenue took a hit when the Tri-City exit was blocked during the recent bridge repair construction, but it is coming back up.
“We are about even with what we were at last year at this time, and we anticipate it to be even better throughout the remainder of the year,” he said.
In spite of that prediction, the city is looking at needing to replace other key vehicles and equipment, such as a backhoe, two police cars, two water department pickups and a vehicle for the code enforcement officer, Nazar said. By financing the excavator, the City will give itself a cushion in case the economy doesn’t respond as anticipated.
Next, the council discussed declaring the property located at 1117 N. Main Street as being dilapidated and proceeding with property abatement. The said property has had a couple of different owners since Sonic Drive-in moved out several years ago. The current owners, Newcastle Subs LLC from Oklahoma City, were hoping to convert the building to a subway shop, but could not obtain the necessary franchise, Nazar said.
For the past two years, it has sat vacant and has become home to vagrants and animals, and the council is proposing it be removed, he said.
“We would like to encourage it to be demolished,” Nazar said. “We don’t mind someone having a vacant lot [on Main Street], but this creates issues for the city.”
The council tabled this item until proper notice could be given to the landowner. As of this time, there has been no response to the City’s inquires.
“We would ask that the landowner demolish it. If he refuses, the city would [do it] and file a lean on the property, because it is a hazard,” he said.
Lastly, the council recently had a traffic study conducted for the possibility of receiving federal money for a new traffic light at the intersection of Country Club and Hwy 37.
According to the group who performed the traffic study, TEC, the intersection did not warrant a signal at this time, but anticipated that it would by the year 2020.
However, the council believes that the study did not figure the correct city growth rate, Nazar said.
“TEC has Newcastle’s growth at two percent, and the city’s figures are that we have exceeded five percent growth a year and anticipate it to continue,” he said.
This difference should move the “warranted” date up, which would be good news for residents living off of Country Club. With the current traffic, it is extremely difficult and dangerous to pull out onto Hwy 37.
The City is still waiting for the finalized updated report, Nazar said.
“ODOT needs the study to warrant the traffic light, and we are trying to move the process forward,” he said. “As soon as we get word from ODOT, we will be able to begin the process by putting [the job] out for bid.”
The estimated cost of a new signal light is $150,000.
By Darla Welchel
After a lengthy debate, the Newcastle City Council voted 4-1 to approve annexation of the property located south of Highway 9 and Western Ave.
Councilman Wayne McDoulett cast the single “no” vote.
McDoulett spent over an hour bringing his concern to the rest of the council, and was adamant that he was against adding any more land to Newcastle City limits.
He expressed his doubts that the annexation and the subsequent additional water line project would be beneficial to the town.
“I don’t think it’s the worst thing, but I don’t think it’s good for Newcastle. It’s not uncommon for towns to “overlap,” but it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing,” he expressed to the council. “We have good water, fire and police and there is a lot of reasons that people want to be in Newcastle, but I don’t want us to make a mistake by annexing this land.”
In the end, most of his concerns were not shared by the other four council members, and the item passed.
The land in question is currently being developed into the Manor Lakes Hills subdivision with vacant lots selling from $80,000 up to $250,000, while homes built on the lots are expected to range upwards from $300,000. The future residents and current developers approached the City of Newcastle over a year ago wishing to annex into Newcastle city limits, and to avail itself of Newcastle’s water.
“They contacted us wanting to be connected to Newcastle water,” said City Manager Nick Nazar. “We have access to the OKC waterline, and we could really use the new customers. We have an understanding with the developer that we won’t provide water if they don’t annex into Newcastle.”
One of McDoulett’s concerns was that the City would be out money on the water project. Nazar stressed that the developer would pay for the 8” pipe for the project, as well as the cost to bore under the highway. The city would contribute to upgrade the 8” line to a 12” line and cover the labor to install the waterline.
Mayor Karl Nail said the City is expecting to receive around $700,000 in construction sales tax, as well as around $7,000 annually for the new customer revenues.
Both Nail and Nazar reassured the council that Newcastle would not be out any money for this project.
“We wanted to make sure that the rest of Newcastle doesn’t have to pay for this project,” Nazar said. “I think this was a positive thing once it was done, and we are all ready to move forward.”
Also, during the meeting, approval was given to hire GSA Engineering for services related to the design and construction of the water line extension.
The next step is to put the materials list out for bid. No estimation has been made to when the water line project will begin or how long it will take.
By Cody Johnson
This week McClain County went to the voting polls in search of their elected offices and state questions.
In district I, Benny McGowen defeated Ronny Ray with a total of 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent. In district II, Wilson Lyles won the elected position of county commissioner. In district III, Charles "Shorty" Foster defeated Alan Thompson with a total of 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent.
For the position of district 21 Judge appointments, Jeff Virgin defeated Steve Stice with a total of 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent.
For the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin defeated Joe Dorman 61.7 percent to 35.4 percent.
For the United States Senator (unexpired term), James Lankford defeated Connie Johnson and Mark Beard 77.7 percent to 19.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.
State question 769 passed. "State Question 769 will address this situation and similar ones that were impossible for the drafters of Oklahoma’s Constitution to anticipate. SQ 769 will amend Art. II, Sec. 12 to specifically exempt officers and enlisted members of the National Guard, Reserves, and state militia from the prohibition of holding offices in both the state and federal government," www.okpolicy.org.
Both State questions 770 and 771 passed.
"State Question 770 specifies that a disabled veteran or surviving spouse who sells a homestead property can claim an exemption on a newly-purchased property that same year. Currently, the veteran must wait until the following year to claim the exemption on a newly purchased property;
State Question 771 extends the full homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of someone who died while in the line of duty, as determined by the United States Department of Defense. The exemption would apply to the surviving spouse until she/he remarries and, if the homestead property is sold, would be transferable to a new property the year it is bought," www.okpolicy.org
By Darla Welchel
It is a banner, an emblem, a standard, which delineates our country.
It is a symbol of freedom, of wars fought, of lives lost; it is a streamer of Red, White and Blue, which signifies hope, patriotism, honor and solidarity.
It is not to be forgotten, ignored or disrespected.
It is something to be proud of, not ashamed, and it is never to be hidden or apologized for.
It means so many things to many different people, and lately it has been taken for granted and shoved aside all in the name of political correctness or lack of care.
There are many rules governing the displaying, care and destruction of the American Flag. Many don’t realize there are "codes" to follow, and through lack of information, people (often our brave Veterans) are hurt.
In 1942, a law was passed by Congress to establish specific rules for displaying the flag by civilians, local governments and even schools. The intent of the law was to ensure that the U.S. flag is to be given a position of honor. Here are a few of those codes.
In procession with other flags it is carried in front
With other flags on the same halyard, the U.S. flag is on top
With two or more flags in line, the U.S. flag is at right
In a group of other flags on display where the bottoms of the staffs touch in fanlike fashion, the U.S. flag is displayed in the center
The U.S. flag is usually displayed from sunrise to sunset although later rules to allow lighting at night were added
The flag should not be used as "wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery"
The flag should never be drawn back or bunched up in any way
If the flag is being used at a public or private estate, it should not be hung (unless at half staff or when an all-weather flag is displayed) during rain or violent weather
Even the public schools in Oklahoma have a set of rules and regulations concerning the flag.
• The board of education of every school district in this state shall be required to own and display, either inside or outside each classroom building in the district, a United States Flag
• Instruction in the history and etiquette relating to the United States Flag shall be given in one or more grades in the schools in every school district in this state
• Students in all public schools are authorized to recite, at the beginning of each school day, the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and required to site it once every school week
If you would like to learn more about our great flag and the codes governing it, visit usflag.org. You can also contact any Veteran's organization or Boy Scout troop for help with properly destroying a worn out American flag.
By Cody Johnson
The McClain County elections are soon upon us and with them come brave responsibility for all those partaking in the democracy that is the United States. For the last several years, three different people have been making decisions for each position upon which they were appointed but now is the time for change, if that is what the public wants.
Newcastle is placed uniquely within McClain County. Newcastle has three different districts running through it; district I, district II and district III (see map for reference.) This means that three different elected positions have say as to what happens within this community.
For district I, Benny McGowen has been serving the last elected term. For district II, Wilson Lyles has been serving the last elected term. For district III, Charles "Shorty" Foster has been serving the last elected term.
This year every previous district commissioner is re-running for office but also has an incumbent running against them.
In district I, Benny McGowen, current county commissioner, is running against Ronny Ray. In district II, Wilson Lyles is running county commissioner. In district III, Charles "Shorty" Foster, current county commissioner is running against Allan Thompson.
This year there are also two judges running for district 21 appointment. Jeff virgin is running against Steve Stice. District 21 serves Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties and both candidates have experience with district 21.
"Special District Judge Virgin served as an Assistant District Attorney for the 21st District, which includes Cleveland, McClain, and Garvin Counties. As Assistant District Attorney, Virgin prosecuted numerous jury and non-jury trials, including criminal and civil cases. District Attorney Greg Mashburn selected Jeff Virgin to become managing Assistant District Attorney in McClain County where he tried criminal, juvenile and mental health cases. Virgin also oversaw McClain County Drug Court and Community Sentencing matters," according to jeffvirginforjudge.com
"In 2010 the District Judges for the 21st Judicial District appointed Stice Special District Judge for Cleveland County. Stice is assigned one of the largest criminal, felony and misdemeanor, civil, and juvenile dockets in the district. Stice uses his business experience in the administration of the courthouse. He has implemented policies to make court dockets run more efficiently. He works closely with Sheriff Joe Lester to help manage and control Cleveland County’s jail population," according to sticeforjudge.com
I would like to remind everybody how important it is that everyone becomes informed and educated on each candidate’s stance before voting.
By Cody Johnson
Some general maintenance consisting of clearing trees and filling in a significantly large hole is underway near the I-44 Bridge.
Dirt-work vehicles can be seen on the south side of the I-44 Bridge as land is being leveled. When the bridge was destroyed by last year's tornado, talk of a viewing platform and historic area began to spread to preserve what is left of the first federally funded highway project in the nation.
"It is all still part of the ODOT right of way. We pushed really hard for them to save one of them (the spans), but ultimately we don’t have any real plans," said city planner Ian Crittenden. "The people who are adjacent to that (the plan for a public viewing platform and historic area) are concerned about the river."
Currently all of the land along the river is private property and there are no public areas by the bridge.
"All the people who live along the river and have property that extends to the middle of it are not really excited about having people running four-wheelers up and down the river banks," Crittenden said. "They don't really like the idea of people hanging out down there."
The area down by the river has been known in the past as a place where people tend to go to consume alcohol or drugs, because they typically cannot be seen, Crittenden said. More traffic, he believes, would actually decrease those activities.
"If a community group came together and was 'gung-ho' about doing it, we would definitely talk to them and see how on board City Council is about it," Crittenden said. "Right now the city does not have any plans."