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Nick’s Promise |

Inside the Circle | Seeds of Hope

An Artist and His


Vol. 13 Number 5







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JULY 2016

21 FEATURES 9 Nick’s Promise 10 Lions Club Launches Junior Charter


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14 GREEN THUMB 13 Dawson Takes His Shot 18 Inside the Circle 21 An Artist and His Bear


Volume 13, Number 5 Shawnee Outlook is a publication of Layers Media, Inc. © 2016 Layers Media, Inc.


25 Ben Strong Golf Tournament

Articles and advertisements in Shawnee Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Layers Media. Layers Media does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by Shawnee Outlook does not constitute endorsement of products, services, political candidates/parties or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Shawnee Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.

26 Fostering an Older Child 30 Seeds of Hope

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Beat the Heat

Creamy Pudding

The summer heat has settled in, making it hard to get outside to enjoy those lazy summer days. If you or your kids are looking to cool off this summer, there are a few budget-friendly options here in Shawnee.

Ok, so before you read the ingredient list, know that I am serious when it comes to chocolate. Finding a way to have chocolate and to not feel guilty about it, is what I am all about! So before you think I am crazy by making pudding with avocados, just give it a try. This pudding is the creamiest pudding I have ever had.

• If you want to get out of the house and submerse yourself in a cool, refreshing pool, try Shawnee Splash, located in Woodlands Veterans Park off of Highland. And if you want to wait until after work, admission is half-price each evening, from 6-8 p.m. If you just want the little ones to splash around, there is a very minimal cost for non-swimming adults who are only present to supervise. The park offers a splash pad for the tiny ones, a wading pool with pint-sized slide for younger kids who aren’t yet confident in the water and water slides, diving boards and a climbing wall for the daring older swimmers. Hurry, though – the last full day of operation is August 7! • For some free splashing fun, check out the new splash pad in Boy Scout Park off of Main St. This splash pad is free and open daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. • For some at-home fun, get old-fashioned and set up a sprinkler for the kids to run through (or throw on a suit and remember how fun it was when you were little!). Head to the dollar store for a great selection of water guns. Other at-home options include water balloons or a slip-and-slide. Or, for your own homemade slip and slide, spread out a large tarp and spray with water, or set the sprinkler next to it for slippery fun (parental supervision is advised, though, as these slippery surfaces can be dangerous if used improperly).

Ingredients: • 2 medium ripe avocados • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder • 2 Tbsp honey • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk Directions: Peel avocados and remove pit. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. If pudding appears too thick and not mixing well, add a splash of additional milk. Makes: 4, ½ cup servings Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 202 – Total Fat: 14 g – Saturated Fat: 2 g – Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 31 mg – Carbohydrates: 20 g – Fiber: 8 g – Protein: 3 g Nutrition 101 Tip: Packaged pudding boxes contain so much more than what you think. When it says “chocolate flavor” – that is not chocolate, it is a chocolate flavor. We want the real deal. Don’t be alarmed by the calorie and fat content of this dessert. Note that out of 14g of total fat, only 2g are coming from saturated fat. This means the other 12g are coming from the “good for your heart” fat. If you need guidance on knowing the difference between good and bad fats, I can be reached at Anytime Fitness.

Whatever way you choose to keep cool, remember to use sunscreen and reapply frequently!

Angela Rowland is an OBU graduate and a stay-at-home mother of four. She enjoys finding new ways to stretch the paycheck and even posts some of her favorite tips and deals on her blog (steadfaststeward.blogspot.com)

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Keeping Friends and Family Heart Healthy in Shawnee

Shawnee Clinic

Primary Care and Heart Care 3306 N. Kickapoo | Shawnee, OK 74804 405-628-6535 | okheart.com NEW PATIENTS WELCOME

Janet Pasquali-Bowers, APRN-CNP Primary Care

OHH interventional cardiologists serving the Shawnee clinic (from left): Naveed Ahmed, MD; Suresh Chandrasekaran, MD; Bryan Perry, MD; Parker Truong, DO; Soni Zacharius, MD; Ronald White, MD; Michael Schoeffler, MD; Aamir Hameed, MD; and Nabhan Al-Nabhan, MD. Not pictured: cardiothoracic surgeon John Randolph, MD.



Nick’s Promise January 31, 2015 was a cold Saturday night. Trooper Nicholas “Nick” Dees and Trooper Keith Burch responded to a turned over semi just inside Seminole County. Because the call was originally placed in Pottawatomie County, Deputy William Wheeler and a reserve deputy were on their way. Deputy Wheeler parked his unit, walked up to Trooper Keith Burch and said a few words when suddenly he looked up. Headlights were headed straight for them. He had only enough time to yell, “WE GOTTA MOVE!” Half a second later, he would have been dead. From the ravine where they were parked, Wheeler ran to Trooper Burch who was severely injured. Burch kept yelling for his partner, “NICK” but all Wheeler could see in the distance were two bare feet. The impact had knocked his boots off. Nick was dead. The incident, from the point of impact to the radio call for help, took just 3 minutes and 58 seconds; but their lives were changed forever. The investigation revealed that the driver of the

vehicle, 31 year-old Steven Clark, was driving 79 miles per hour, never hit his brakes, and had multiple incoming and outgoing messages on apps. He was a distracted driver, a risk to public safety that has prompted legislators to pass laws in many states banning texting and driving including Oklahoma. Deputy Wheeler and the Dees family ultimately responded to this life altering tragedy with advocacy efforts to help people stop distracted driving. Nick’s Promise educates the public about the risks of taking your eyes off the wheel. Last month Nick’s brother, Barry Dees, and Deputy Wheeler educated Shawnee drivers education students and youth at Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Since they began last year, they have appeared before thousands of students all over the state. Summer is a time when there are more teen drivers on the road heading to work, meeting friends, and taking road trips. Dees and Wheeler are making sure they don’t take a break during the busiest travel season for this demographic. Their presentation shows a real accident in which students are involved in a fatality collision due to texting and driving. While they do share some statistics with their audience, the video seems to have the biggest impact. “In McAlester, we had close to 100 kids who had to go out into the lobby because they were so emotional,” said Deputy Wheeler. “We warn the faculty and students ahead of time that what they will see is real and they may want to go into the lobby.” Wheeler also has students bring their cellphones to the auditorium. He asks them to take out their phones and send a text message or update their Facebook page. “I give them about 30 seconds or so and then tell them to

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Deputy William Wheeler addresses Shawnee driver’s education students

stop. ‘Now you’re all dead. Look at your phone. Is that the last thing you want sent out? That’s what happens. That’s what we (law enforcement) show up on every day.’” Wheeler and Dees said they aren’t “preachy” to the kids, and freely admit they both used to text and drive. “We tell these kids, we’ve done this. It took an unfortunate moment for me to happen to be there and witness it myself for me to change my habits. I don’t want it to have to be what changes theirs. If we can get them to stop now and change their habit, even if we get one student, then we feel like we did our job,” said Wheeler. Students have an opportunity to sign a pledge, that they will not engage in any distractive behavior while driving. They encourage students to use a free driving app that sends an automatic reply when text messages are received on a phone. “They come with messages that say you’re driving and can’t type or you can set up your own message,” said Wheeler. Both Dees and Wheeler said the feedback they receive from school faculty and parents has been 100 percent positive. For more information about Nick’s Promise visit moveoverfor731.com.

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A dozen Shawnee youngsters are duplicating the actions of their adult counterparts in the local Lions Club by helping others. During the spring, Lions Club President Katie Landes orchestrated a junior program, Leadership Experience Opportunity, that encourages children 12 to 18 to participate in the civic club and become engaged in various community service projects. The teens and their advisors haven’t been shy about getting the program started. For the last several months, the LEOs have joined together for projects involving foster care awareness, food distribution to the less fortunate, and assisted the adult Lions Club members with their annual Chili Feast fundraiser. There are no qualifications to be a LEO member, just a helping heart and the willingness to help others, Landes and incoming Lions Club President Brandon Hokit said. “You just need to be a kid who is looking to do service work,” Hokit said. “This gives them the opportunity to get involved in their community.” So far, the LEOs have registered runners for a 5K race that benefitted foster care awareness and they’ve helped pass out food on two occasions during June at Shawnee’s community market. In April, the youngsters put together street tacos during the Night at the Bricks. “Everything they do is similar to what the Lions Club does as far as community service,” Hokit said. “It’s up to the kids to decide what their service projects will be. We’re there as a club to support them.” The LEOs met periodically to talk about future service projects. Landes was surprised she was able to land the original 12 members since the club’s formation was finalized in the spring and families already were making plans for the summer months. “I just had a vision to get more youth involved in what the Lions Club does,” she said. “My child goes with me to Lions Club meetings and he sees how they help the community. That’s what really started it. I had the idea that more kids would like to get involved. So when I get 12 signed up, I was pleased considering the time of year it was.”

Shawnee Leo club advisor and president of Shawnee Lions Club Katie Landes presenting the Leo club charter to LEO President Kaitlyn Owings

Landes had informational meetings at her office and other community locations to promote the LEO program. There are no applications or interviews for membership. “You just need to be between 12 and 18 years old and in good standing as a student,” she said. Landes is confident the number of LEOs will grow when the new school term starts and they start looking for ways to become involved. “I feel like we’ll have better response in the fall,” she said. Landes believes the LEO group and its service groups will benefit the students as they prepare for their future at college, in the military or the workplace. “Oftentimes, people want to invest in those who invest in others and they look more favorably on kids who take part in their community,” she said. Lions Clubs worldwide typically focus on community service projects that involve health, vision, children, and the environment.

President Lions Club Katie Landes with Lions Club Junoir Charter Memebers



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Dawson Takes His Shot

Thirteen-year-old Dawson Arnett will have a shot to win an American Marksman Association championship early next month. The mid-south regional challenge will be held in Cressa, Texas August 6-7 and will be televised on the Outdoor and Sportsman channels. Dawson received a bid in May when he qualified, placing 4th in pistol and 1st in rifle. “At the time he qualified,” said mom, Natalie Arnett, “he was first at that time in the entire U.S. for all regions in his division.” The mid-south division includes Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The American Marksman competition is one of few Dawson has been able to find that have youth divisions. Usually he competes with adults, the youngest being college students. They show him tricks and then sometimes he outshoots them. Natalie said competitors take it really well, for

the most part. “Here they are going up against a kid and you can see it’s kind of disheartening, but Dawson is very calm, very humble about it. When he qualified (in May), everyone was excited that someone from Oklahoma would compete. I think he was a little shocked he did as well as he did.” Maybe his scores shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to a kid who practices daily in his backyard. There are no local youth leagues and while he does enjoy some shooting time at BDC Gunroom and a few ranges in Oklahoma City, he is usually found with pistol or rifle in the privacy of his own backyard range. He’s been practicing, it seems since he could pick up anything that shoots. From the age of four, his parents said it seemed he always “had some kind of pistol” in his hands starting with Nerf and then air soft guns. Finally, he started with true weapons. He has a dozen or so guns,

by: Mindy Wood

which are kept locked in a combination gun safe. Dawson paid for most of his guns with his allowance, and from mowing yards and odd jobs. His parents said that reinforces the values of hard work and responsibility. Respect for a gun and safety is the number one priority. “It was the first thing I learned,” said Dawson. “If you know what you’re doing, it will be safe.” Gun safety on ranges and at competitions is strictly enforced and those protocols are often different, giving a shooter experience in diverse safety measures. Anyone who violates a single protocol is immediately disqualified. Dawson said his father trained him well in gun safety. William Arnett is an Oklahoma State Trooper, arms instructor for OHP, and gun repairman (armorer). Natalie said she feels very comfortable with www.shawneeoutlook.com

> 13

Dawson’s ability to safely use guns, because he also understands the mechanics of them. He can completely disassemble, clean, and reassemble his weapons. He started doing that at eight years old. While Dawson enjoys friends and other sports like football and baseball, competitive shooting is his passion. He also favors trick shooting or professional shooters who entertain like Jerry Michule. The sharpshooter has shot the erasers off of pencils, fired his pistol upside down and hit targets from at least 200 yards, and split a few cards too. Expired fruit also gets lined up for the firing range. “He loves long range shooting,” said Natalie. His longest distance shoot was from 700 yards. He enjoys trap shooting and steel target shooting. Quail Ridge in McLoud offers clay pigeon shooting where he sometimes tries his skills. William and Natalie hope to draw attention to a sport that can win scholarships for college or even take a marksman to the Olympics. “We’re looking at OSU since they just started a team,” said Natalie. “There’s also prize money to win at these competitions.” And the money isn’t bad. The top winner

of a local youth league if anyone is interested. For more information, contact Natalie Arnett by phone at 405-830-0183 or by email at narnettchrealty@yahoo.com

in each division of the American Marksman competition will receive a bid to compete for a $50,000 cash prize. The Arnetts said they are willing to be part


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Microenterprise loans a must have for Native American entrepreneurs According to the World Bank, there are an estimated 2.5 billion adults across the globe who are excluded from formal financial institutions. Roughly three quarters of those have no access due to poverty, costs and the burdensome requirements in opening an account or accessing capital. One remedy to these obstacles came about in Bangladesh in the 1970s, where Mohammed Yunus began what became known as “microfinance” lending. Yunus, an economics professor seeking to find a way to break the cycle of poverty impacting his home country, believed that access to credit was a fundamental human right. In one of capitalism’s most poignant examples of putting one’s money where one’s mouth is, Yunus made a series of small, $27 personal loans to Bangladeshi basket weavers. Yunus coupled the loans distribution with financial instruction on principles on which the basket weavers would run their burgeoning enterprises, a successful strategy that ultimately lead to the creation of an entirely new lending concept: microfinancing. As a testament to his success, Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in pioneering a way for those too financially challenged to access commercial lending credit at traditional financial institutions. Generally, individuals in the United States do not face the same economic challenges found in 1970s Bangladesh. While the figures are not the same, areas across the nation face remarkably similar



economic circumstances when it comes to accessing capital for small business ventures, including many Native American communities. Following the example of early trailblazers like Yunus, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development distributes funds to loan providers serving these communities to promote Native American small businesses. Through an Indian Community Development Block Grant, a microenterprise loan development program is now available for small business owners in Oklahoma through the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation. The CPCDC secured the funding for the microenterprise loan program to further its mission to promote, educate and inspire the entrepreneurial growth and financial wellbeing of tribal communities. “This specific loan program meets a critical community need by providing economic opportunities for Native Americans with low and moderate incomes,” explained CPCDC Director Shane Jett. “We do this through financial education, access to capital, business development services and innovative capacity building practices.” Specifically geared toward small businesses with fewer than five employees, the microloan funds aim to fund the development, expansion and stabilization of these firms while retaining or

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CPCDC offers economic oppertunities for Native Americans with low and moderate incomes

creating new employment opportunities for Native Americans. The program’s success doesn’t only hinge on the ICDBG funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The tribe has contributed $250,000 of its own capital to the federal government’s initial $800,000 grant. “In providing these funding opportunities to entrepreneurs in our local communities, we’re able to directly address low- and moderate-income Native American business owners’ needs when it comes to finding capital to get their businesses going. Consequently this will lead to increased hiring and economic stimulation in our shared communities,” said Jett. Loan funds are not exclusively for the use of CPN members, but rather are open to small businesses owned by all members of federally recognized tribal nations. As Jett explained, “There are more than 35,000 Native Americans within the CPN jurisdiction alone, meaning we have a deep pool of current or future entrepreneurs able to access these commercial

lending funds. If 10 of those loans help lay the foundation of a successful business in the jurisdiction, which encompasses most of Pottawatomie County as well as portions of Oklahoma and Cleveland counties, the entire region benefits.” The microenterprise loans aren’t just a loan with little oversight. The CPCDC will help build up the capacity and capabilities of their clients’ businesses through business training and financial counseling services offered by CPCDC staff. “Our staff has a wide array of small business and consumer counseling experience. We can look at a business plan, point out what will work and help improve what needs improving. Ultimately we don’t consider it a successful loan unless the business succeeds,” said Jett. To learn more about the CPCDC’s microenterprise loan program, visit www.cpcdc.org or call 405-878-4697.

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Inside the Circle Kelsey Philo has found her place in a circle of peace and joy as a hula hoop performer. She is on tour with the Pioneer Library System and will continue to present her craft to young audiences across the region through the end of summer. Philo discovered the art of hula hoops by accident and it changed her life. While in college, Philo sustained permanent back injuries in a car wreck. Doctors told her to be prepared to never walk again. She refused to give up and endured hours of painful physical therapy daily for months. Finally, she was back on her feet, but she had gained weight during recovery and suffered with PTSD. During a trip to Austin, Texas she encountered Henna Kim, who makes hula hoops. It interested Philo, but she wasn’t convinced she could master it as she’d never been able to keep one around her middle as a kid. “She basically forced me to try it,” she laughed. “I did it and I loved it.” Kim instructed her how to make her own and soon she was in her backyard with music and a hoop twirling around her body. She had no idea how powerfully it would affect her wellbeing. Philo said it brought her out of depression, helped her lose weight, and strengthened the muscles in her lower back and hips. “Just letting go of everything and spinning around on the earth was so healing. I didn’t know what I was doing, but it didn’t matter. I was dancing again.”



Growing up, Philo enjoyed a variety of dance classes. Maybe that’s why it didn’t take long for her to discover the joy of performing hoops for others. The idea hadn’t occurred to her until a friend suggested she take her hoops to Lions Park in Norman where other performers practice their craft. She decided to give it a try and attended “Flowin’ Days” at the park. There she found a community of jugglers, unicyclists, and other manipulation artists. Using the foundation of dance she learned as a child and the skill of moving the hoop all over her body, she developed routines using LED lights and even fire. At Flowin’ Days, she met the performing community’s leader, Jeremy Philo, and last year they married. They often perform together at events. Kelsey also gives private lessons and teaches groups throughout the year. She’s happy to share her love of movement with people of all ages, but with kids she said it’s been a new experience. “I identify with kids so much. I can be myself with them, be straight with them and they respond to that. I want to teach them to love their bodies and that it can be fun.” Hula hoop as an exercise outlet is part of a growing trend to use play as exercise, rather than treadmills at the gym or living room aerobics. As a low impact exercise, experts say it is in the fat burning range with the potential to

by: Mindy Wood

burn 300-400 calories an hour. “It used to be you pop in your DVD and exercise. Women are finding if it’s fun, they’ll actually want to do it. I’m going in my backyard, putting on my music, and just playing with my hoop. We don’t play as adults because it doesn’t make money. It quits being a priority. When I realized how beneficial it was for me, and fun, other things clicked in my brain for me. If I ate healthier, I felt better instead of going on a diet to lose weight,” said Philo. Most people can try hula hoops, but Philo says not all hoops are equal. She said weighted hoops often sold in fitness equipment department stores are too heavy. “The heaviest hoop I have is maybe 2lbs. People are buying ones that weigh 5lbs. because of the marketing gimmick that says the heavier it is the more weight you’ll lose.” Finding hoops isn’t as easy as picking one up in the toy department either. While Philo does make hoops for adults, it isn’t her day job so they’re not always available. She recommends buying them on Etsy, Hoopnotica.com, or Tubing. org. Philo recommends it as a meditation method too or a way to destress. “It’s a meditation. Try to keep your hoop up and think of your to-do list. You just can’t. It quiets your mind. It’s my way to just shut off and be present.” For more information, including videos, visit kelseyhoops.com.



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Same-day family practice appointments now available in Shawnee. Call 405-273-6383 between 7 a.m. and Noon, Monday-Friday. At AllianceHealth Medical Group Family Medicine Shawnee*, we’re making it easier than ever to get primary care for your family. Call 405-273-6383 for a same-day appointment. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans are accepted. Ask us about preventive care services your insurance may cover at no cost to you.

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Bee Rescue: Blake Hargrove

An Artist and His Bear by: Jamie Bergsten

Artists get inspiration from a variety of sources. Some desire to share nature’s beauty or find stress relief, while others seek to boost their intellectual abilities. For Stan Pace, art brings him contentment and peace. His latest work is in progress at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Shawnee, and may become a new area landmark. Pace and his wife Shana live between Tecumseh and Macomb. They raise Great Danes, chickens, horses, and have a special friend named Bowser. He never considered himself an artist until someone appreciated his early work. As he continued to experiment with concrete and then wood, he developed his own style and methods. “I just wanted to make the things that were in my mind and wouldn’t go away.” Those “things” have been varied through the years. “I had a driving force to create waterfalls when I lived in Florida. I didn’t have anything to move boulders, so I started making my own rocks. Then I started carving things besides rocks. Trees, fossils, dinosaur skeletons, eagles, elk heads, sea life – almost anything -- out of concrete.” In 2013, that venture, which had grown to include building big themed swimming pools and other projects, ended. His artistry

continued. “The first (wood) piece I did was a replica bear head for my mother, and I was hooked. I’ve been carving ever since.” That bear carving is a replica of Bowser, a four-year-old bear who lives with the Pace family. They’ve had him since he was a tiny five-pound cub, drinking from a bottle, and wearing diapers. He lives in a special enclosure with a big yard, pool, trees, and appropriate housing. “Bowser’s not a novelty to us but a part of the family,” Pace said. “We’re together every day, and he’s part of my spiritual life. I played with a baby black bear in Minnesota when I was young, and I felt an unbelievable connection to that animal. I’ve studied black bears all my life, and the opportunity to get one just fell into place.” While the animal doesn’t do tricks, Pace credits Bowser with being hilarious, and he documents the bear’s antics on his personal Facebook page. He welcomes anyone to follow the posts about Bowser. “I don’t necessarily believe strongly about politics or activism; I was simply following my spirit when I got him. With Bowser, I’m able to share some incredible experiences with others, especially kids, because I do welcome people to visit him by appointment, one-on-one. We

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continued from page 21 talk about the magical feeling he brings out in those he meets.” Pace crafts his artistic creations in his home workshop, in a hilly area he likes to refer to as “Macomb mountain.” There, he can step outside and watch nature or visit Bowser for inspiration. “I also go onsite to chainsaw-carve trees at customers’ locations. That might include quick carvings or much longer projects. We also do events where we carve pieces for people while they watch, or they can select finished carvings.” When asked about his favorite endeavors, Pace cited concrete projects at the OKC Zoo. “We did the sea life mural above the entrance to the aquarium, as you go to see the sea lions. We did the trees, a bamboo story wall, and lots of animals at the kids’ jungle gym. You’d never know they were concrete. I carved my kids’ names in the trees, so every time they went there, they had something to show their friends.” Pace also created a lifesize Viking ship for the football field at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma. His favorite is the woodcarving he did for his mother. “It signifies a new chapter in my work, as well as the realization of a lifelong dream to bond with a bear. It wasn’t the desire to have a bear but to connect with the

same spirit I felt when I was 10 and played with one. I never forgot the feeling I had, and I now experience that daily in my journey with Bowser. It was also the first time I made something new and didn’t worry about selling it. From the beginning, it was for my mom, and that helped me realize the peace and freedom from doing something for love.” Prices for Pace’s creations vary from $20 to $500, while elaborate projects involving hundreds of hours can sell for thousands of dollars. The tree at the Santa Fe Depot is nearly 100 years old, 12-14 feet tall, and eight feet wide. It will have one feather for each of the Native American tribes in this county. The backside will include a replica of Buddy the bear from inside the museum, the Beard log cabin, some trains, and a few tunnels. “We’ll have to see what the tree tells us when we get to that point,” Pace said. As the vision appears, time allows, and logistics work, it’ll develop. I welcome people to check out the progress. My work is a testament to letting go. Please enjoy it.” Pace’s work is on display at Main St. Photo Studio and Gallery at 420 E. Main. You can view his work at Bowswerswoodcarving.com and on Facebook.

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Ben Strong Golf Tournament Ben Simpson isn’t letting his life altering spinal cord injury stop him from living a full life and he hopes to help others do the same. April 20, 2014 he took the “Polar Plunge” and emerged from the cold water with injuries that paralyzed him from the waist down. July 22 the Elks’ Lodge will host their second annual Ben Simpson Golf Tournament, a fundraiser which has helped Simpson pay for medical expenses and an off-road electric wheelchair. He is preparing to launch the Ben STRONG Foundation to assist others with spinal cord injuries. Simpson considers himself exceptionally fortunate to have a strong support system of family and friends who have helped him be as independent as possible. He works as a project estimator for Dane Electric, a company who found him a different position after his accident. He had been a journeyman and service truck driver. Before the accident, he was an avid outdoorsman. For those with spinal cord injuries, it’s hard not to let the before and after define their lives. Simpson gives credit to Craig Hospital in Colorado where he spent 13 weeks learning how to live in a wheelchair. “They took us everywhere, to baseball games, movies, farmers markets, fishing and out everywhere. Just because you’re sitting in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to sit out.” He said some of the hardest changes to accept is the way people treat him differently in public. “I notice people parking in handicapped spots. The way people react to you, they look at you like there’s something wrong with you. Just because I don’t have things that work like they used to, doesn’t mean I’m not the same person. You have to learn to deal with the fact that people can be very disrespectful. That’s tough to swallow.” Having a job is something denied to many people confined to wheelchairs. Dane Electric is a commercial electric company in Oklahoma City, but he lives north of Shawnee. He has friends and family who take him to work and pick him up, but this year hopes to raise enough money to pay for a modified vehicle that will allow him to drive. He hopes to help others do the same. “I know not everyone has the support system I have. I can’t give them that, but if I give people things that make their situation better, maybe it will help them find a job, reach their own goals, and keep their chin up,” said Simpson. On this journey, Simpson said he discovered how meaningful it can be to engage in volunteer

by: Mindy Wood

work. He spends his free time at Cargo Ranch, an equine program that mentors at-risk youth in Shawnee. Currently he is assisting them with grant writing, a skill that doesn’t require lower body mobility. He hopes those with spinal cord injuries find those opportunities that don’t depend on movement. “I want to help these people be that person for an organization,” said Simpson. Having a positive attitude has gone a long way to keep him moving forward and he hopes to inspire others to do the same. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and life. Always make the best of what comes your way. The person that can change everything that you face, is you. A positive attitude can give you confidence, keeps you looking forward, and it can make someone else’s day.” Simpson has big goals for the foundation. “We’ve got some really good ideas. It’s going to blow people’s minds what we’re going to be able to do. The Ben Simpson Tournament will be held July 22 at the Elk’s Lodge, beginning at 9 a.m. The final day to register is Thursday, July 21 at 5 p.m. The fee is $80 per person with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place payouts. For more information, contact Justin Payne at 405-3080941. www.shawneeoutlook.com


Fostering an Older Child Aaron Smith is a young man of few words, but he has a big story that needs to be told. This sophomore at Rose State College is well on his way to success in life thanks to foster parents who love him as their own. Aaron entered the DHS system at the age of 6 and was in nine different homes before he found the love and security of Val and Traci Gokey. The Gokeys first met Aaron when he was in 6th grade. Val, a counselor at McLoud High School, was Aaron’s football coach. Their son, Matt, was Aaron’s best friend. When the family learned that Aaron was walking to the public library after school every day where he spent several hours waiting for his foster mom to pick him up after work, they asked permission for him to walk to Val ‘s office with Matt instead. In the meantime, Traci had a providential lunch with a long-time friend from high school. Through the course of their conversation they learned that Traci’s friend was Aaron’s Court Appointed Special Advocate. “It was a God thing,” recalled Traci. This opened the door for the Gokeys to become Alternate Care Givers for Aaron through DHS. In 2010, the CASA worker explained to Val and Traci that Aaron needed to be moved once again. They began to pray about whether it would be in the family’s best interest to have Aaron permanently. It needed to be a family decision. Their two older children were grown, so Matt was the only one at home. They wanted his affirmation. Matt’s confirmation opened the door to a new world for Aaron. Val and Traci just wanted him to feel like he was part of the family, but they realized that Aaron’s history of family trauma and disrupted home life would make it hard for him to trust. “Before all this happened in my life; before I went into DHS custody, I was pretty wild,” explained Aaron. “But after a while I just held it all in and became quiet. I don’t remember being scared. I learned to go through the motions. Just go with the flow.” During the adjustment, Aaron continued to see a therapist and the Gokeys concentrated



on providing Aaron with a normal family life. Gradually, Aaron began to feel secure and confident. The Gokeys would have adopted Aaron, but as the oldest of 8 siblings, his birth family is still very important to him. Aaron wanted to remain a Smith. Though all of the siblings now have forever families, Aaron still has close ties with them. He visits his grandmother often and spends a lot of time with his ninth grade brother. “His family loyalty always impresses me,” explained Traci. “He is a great big brother to the others. He was their caregiver for so long that he really never had a chance to be just be a kid. We wanted him to have that experience.” They gave Aaron the chance to participate in sports, camps, church, mission trips, and other activities that help to foster success. His love for football and his willingness to accept instruction made Aaron successful on the field. He was selected to the All District team as an offensive lineman. He turned down a football scholarship to Southern Nazarene University so he could concentrate on academics. He enrolled in DHS’s Independent Living program which provides resources and classes that help young adults learn to be financially independent. With their help and the financial support of the Kickapoo Tribe, Aaron bought his own truck and pays for all of his schooling. He maintains a 3.5 GPA at Rose State where he plans to attend one more year before transferring to a four-year school. He is passionate about weightlifting and has lost 70 pounds since November in hopes that he can try out for football as a walk-on. When asked about the difference the Gokeys

by: Kristi Prince

have made in his life, this burly, quiet-spoken young man has to speak through tears. “I honestly don’t know where I would be.” Val and Traci also fight the tears as they listen to Aaron’s emotional response. Aaron isn’t sure what his future holds, but he is ready for it. If that future offers him the opportunity to invest in the life of a child in need, Aaron will willingly accept the challenge because he knows the difference it can make. The Gokeys encourage others to consider fostering. There is a great need for families who are willing to take older children. Val explained, “We were apprehensive at first. All of the ‘what ifs’ kept playing in our minds. Because we trusted, God allowed us to make an impact on Aaron’s life. We have watched him mature and develop into a great young man. The blessings far outweigh any of our misgivings.” For information on events, volunteering, donations, foster care or adoption, please contact Pott. Co. DHS recruiter, Andrea Stasyszen. 405-878-4042 or 405-765-9650.

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Amelia Earhart’s Landing in Shawnee Most everybody recognizes the name, Amelia Earhart, and are familiar with the story of her mysterious disappearance while attempting an aroundthe-world flight. Few know of her years of advancing the cause of women flyers and even fewer are aware that Earhart once landed at Shawnee’s Municipal Airport. Born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart lived around the Midwest with her family as they followed her railroad-employed father. She took her first airplane ride soon after World War I and fell in love with flying. She quit Columbia University in 1919 to work as a photographer and stenographer so she could earn money to take flying lessons. She eventually bought her own plane and by 1928 her reputation had grown as a female aviator. She accompanied three men on a transatlantic flight and became the first woman to fly across the ocean. She was only along for the ride but was dubbed “Queen of the Air” and returned to adoring crowds and offers from the advertising world. Earhart was soon making solo flights and got into competitive air racing. She was also a founding member of the Ninety Nines, a group that promoted female fliers. She was hired by the Beech-Nut chewing gum company in 1932 to fly an Autogiro painted with their advertising. The autogiro was often called the “windmill plane,” and was a cross between a small propeller plane and a helicopter. A cross-country tour was mapped out for Earhart and one of the stops was Shawnee, Oklahoma. The tour began May 28, 1932, in Newark New Jersey, and continued across the Midwest to California. On June 8 the return journey began and Earhart landed in Oklahoma City five days later. After a quick trip to Dallas, Shawnee was next on the list. On June 17, she glided the strange airship into


the Shawnee airport a little before noon. She planned to only be in town long enough to attend a luncheon and refuel. But when she and her mechanic took off heading to Tulsa they returned to Shawnee. Eddie McVaughn, a mechanic traveling with her was concerned about an issue with the clutch in the plane and suggested they return to check it out. Most of the crowd had left after getting a glimpse of the famous aviatrix and her “windmill.” But many still remained or saw the plane returning. Earhart was anxious to get back on schedule but indicated her appreciation of the hospitality of city leaders. According to the newspaper accounts, she politely refused a chance to refresh herself with a swim at the County Club or to go downtown for a fountain drink. She said she preferred to stay with her “ship” as it was being repaired. Airport officials roped off the work area to keep spectators away as McVaughn checked and repaired the part after putting in a call to the plane’s builder, Pitcairn Aircraft in Philadelphia, for instructions. After three hours, the famous flier and her mechanic were satisfied with the Autogiro and

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they took off on their next leg to Tulsa. After a stop there, Earhart flew back across the country, returning to Newark on June 22. Six years later, Earhart and her navigator disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean as she attempted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Shawnee citizens felt a special concern even though their encounter with the famous aviatrix was brief.

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Seeds of Hope

by: Mindy Wood

JULY 10-15

Hailed as the richest rodeo in the region, the IFYR is back! Checkout all of the talented participants riding, roping, and racing their way to awards. Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding. A trade show for western clothing, apparel, and artwork will be ongoing.


Find out what the adult coloring craze is all about at the Shawnee Public Library from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It turns out that coloring can be beneficial for adults -- mostly for its de-stressing power. The practice generates wellness, quietness, and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses, and creativity. Let’s get together and color! Age 18 and up only. Registration required.

JULY 16, 30

Family Flick N’ Float at the Shawnee Municipal Pool and Splash Pad is held at 9 p.m. Bring the family for a family friendly movie and splash fun. Admission is $3, for season pass holders admission is $1


Downtown Block Party is your chance to enjoy the arts in Downtown Shawnee. Live music, food vendors, and local artists display their work in shops along Main and Bell streets. The fun starts at 5 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m.


Wondering what fork to use for your salad? Is it ok to send a thank you by email? Can you RSVP for a wedding by text? Join us for a discussion on etiquette lesson with Sue Roberson to explore and discuss all the important details to keep you in good graces in touchy situations. Age 18 and up. Registration Requested.



If you’ve got paperback books collecting dust on your bookshelf, the Shawnee Public Library would love to have them for inmates at the local jail. The Pottawatomie County Jail Library Association provides books every week to inmates at the Pottawatomie County Safety Center and Carter Hall Juvenile Detention Center. They can’t get enough of them. Beth Lyle of the Tecumseh Public Library, and Janie Davis, Pottawatomie County Literacy Coordinator, gather with volunteers to provide books and hold two-hour literacy classes. The association was formed six years ago when Paul Milburn, a member of the jail trust board, said he saw a need and hoped it would make a difference. The response by inmates has been overwhelmingly positive. Breonna Thompson, PCSC assistant director, said that while inmates have a very structured day, they can read almost anytime they choose to and a lot of them do. “If we have 300 inmates, then I’d say 300 are getting books. Ten people may touch a book in a week to read it. That’s why there’s such a demand and the wear and tear on these books is incredible.” There is an extensive need for teen paperback fiction for Cater Hall. “So many of our teen books are hardcover,” said Janie Davis. “So that’s made it hard to get books out there.” The kind of books inmates enjoy includes fiction, non-fiction, Bibles, inspirational, and even math books and dictionaries. The reason they want dictionaries is often not just to look up unfamiliar words in a book. “We have inmates who defend themselves in court cases, so it’s imperative that they have access to the proper vocabulary so the dictionaries do come in handy for that aspect,” said Thompson. The literacy program kicks off with a 30-minute book review followed by an introduction to higher learning and help with reading or math skills. Janie Davis, a former history teacher, said the most important thing is showing the class that they can learn.

“I realized most of my students here didn’t have a high school diploma and they really wanted one. So we changed the program to introduce them to the high set or GED test and show them they could do it. They’re very smart; they can do it. They may have some issues with reading or math, but it isn’t something they can’t overcome. So we want to encourage the. We don’t have time to do a high set training, but we can introduce it to them. We hope when they come out they’ll come to the library and we’ll get a tutor for them or get them into the adult education high set program,” said Davis. The students at the jail respond very well. “It’s exciting when they tell you, ‘This is the quickest two hours we spend here.’ They’re doing things they probably haven’t done in a long time, but they really listen. They do scholastic magazines, math work, and we show them where different places are in the world. I make sure everyone knows the three branches of government. They’re very respectful and thankful every time,” said Davis. Beth Lyle recalled a particularly heart-touching moment in the program when a young mother was serving time. “Her daughter was four years old. We did a picture book discussion and we gave them their books to keep. She thanked us over and over for the book. She told us that when she talked to her daughter on the phone, she read her the book and it gave her a way to connect with her and offer her something. She said when comes to see her she would give her that book.” Jail time varies for inmates widely, from a week to three years depending on the charges and whether or not they’re going to trial. The association’s goal is to plant a seed, so that when they are released their outlook is hopeful. “The seed that is planted is that they can think differently about what is possible,” said Karen Bays, Shawnee Public Library branch manager. To contact donate books, contact the Shawnee Public Library at 405-275-6353 or label boxed books for “Jail Library.” All books donated must be paperback.

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Shawnee Outlook July 2016  

Shawnee Outlook July 2016  


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