Page 1

Outlook 2012

Changing services

Staff photo by Wendy Burton

Work continues on the Cherokee Veterans Center in the main tribal complex. There are several capital improvement projects in the works, though the tribe is still working on funding for them.

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Outlook 2012 Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 2

Change abounds in Cherokee Nation By Wendy Burton Phoenix Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A new administration, major changes in health care and financial boons marked 2011 for the Cherokee Nation. And officials say 2012 will see plenty of positive change. Perhaps the biggest news story of the year for the Nation — the principal chief election, which was marked with controversy, but ended with triumph for Principal Chief Bill John Baker. Baker said the election actually had a positive impact on the tribe. “The election will certainly make all of us much more interesting storytellers when we’re old and sitting on the front porch someday,” Baker said, and laughed. “But the election also energized Cherokees to participate in tribal matters like some haven’t in the past,”

he said. “I see opportunities for a new community group to come out of it. We are now moving toward culture, language and arts — and the kinship that I think a lot of Cherokees crave.” Baker said he was delighted to sign his first piece of legislature into law after his inauguration — a piece that he proposed as a tribal councilor. The bill increases the amount of the casino profits paid back to the tribe by 5 percent, with the additional 5 percent going directly into contract health services. Health care is an important issue to Baker and the Nation, he said. The bill allows several improvements to health care, including allowing elders to receive eyeglasses for free rather than paying a co-payment. Additionally, Baker said, for those tribal members who didn’t qualify for health care because of where they lived, the new funding

means they can try to get them services, too. “It was so nice that it was the first piece of legislature that I could sign,” Baker said. Other changes in 2011 include opening a career services field office in West Siloam Springs, another round of Hard Rock casino expansion, groundbreaking on the Unadiwisdi Health Center in Vinita and groundbreaking on the Cherokee Veterans Center at the tribal complex. The Nation recently released its latest economic impact report, which found the Cherokee Nation has an impact of more than $1 billion on the state’s output level. That includes $401 million in state income impacts, while directly and indirectly supporting more than 13,500 jobs. The report was done by an outside agency and began about a year ago. The

results tell Baker the Nation did well in 2011. “It shows we do a great job, and that by exercising our sovereignty, it’s not only good for the Cherokee Nation but good for our partners in Oklahoma too,” he said. For 2012, the Nation plans to make some changes to its History Course, finish the Veterans Center, the Vinita clinic and more. Most important, Baker said, is improving all Cherokee Nation programs for the citizens. Baker said he asks his team for a wish list before every management meeting. “Dream about the best program you can imagine. Tell us what you think and we’ll try to achieve those hopes and dreams,” he said. Baker said the Nation is putting together a team of professionals that will scour every program and make

improvements. “I’m surrounding myself with good, quality people who have a great deal of knowledge and experience, Baker said. “I have two goals we talk about at every meeting,” he said. “Keep us legal and find a way to help our programs fulfill the need of all of our citizens. Find ways to say yes instead of no.” Baker said the Nation is also interested in educating its citizens and non-citizens in history, tradition and language. The Cherokee Immersion School has become the first tribe-sponsored charter school in the state. Additionally, the Nation offers a 32-hour history course for employees, citizens and interested non-citizens. That course that could see some changes. For those who aren’t within an easy driving distance from Tahlequah, the course has been presented

Cherokee Nation ADMINISTRATION: Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden. WEBSITE:

over four consecutive days. Because the classes have become so popular, the tribe is looking at moving from strictly a traditional in-theclassroom format to more distance learning such as streaming video, webcasts and podcasts to better accommodate interest from all over the country. “We’re not doing away with the history course. We’re looking to make it better,” Baker said. “I think Cherokees all over the world crave to know more about their ancestry, where they came from and where they’re going.” Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@

AFRC makes military more efficient By Mike Carrels Phoenix Staff Writer

Members of the military who train and work at the Muskogee Armed Forces Reserve Center are able to perform their duties with more efficiency, Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Jackson of the Oklahoma National Guard said. The center, which opened in mid-2011, hosts the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1220th Horizontal Company and 1120th Asphalt Team along with the Army Reserve’s 341st and the Department of Defense’s Starbase Program. The 3120th Engineer Support Company, which Jackson heads up, serves as the host unit for the base. “This is just a totally different building,” said Jackson, who worked at the old armory for nearly two years before the AFRC opened. “Our leaders enforce to take pride in this building.” The AFRC serves the National Guard troops who formerly trained here and those who trained at Henryetta, Pryor, Stilwell and Wagoner. The 91,000-square-foot, $23 million facility was one of seven to be constructed throughout the state as a result of the 2005 Base Re-

alignment and Closure Commission’s decision to transform and restructure the force. About 20 employees work there during the week, including three from the Starbase Program, which teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics to area students, said Drate Cathey with the program. Starbase Oklahoma is an Oklahoma National Guard youth program. “Different schools come from different areas around Muskogee,” Cathey said. “We spend five days with them. We make it so fun, they don’t know that they’re doing work. We try to keep it fun.” But the AFRC really springs to life on weekends, when as many as 600 members of the military take part in training exercises. The building is better in just about every way than the previous armory, Jackson said. There are four times the number of showers. Energy-efficient lights that turn on when motion is detected are throughout the facility. The assembly hall is larger, and the kitchen features state-of-the-art equipment. The storage facility is much larger, as is the conference room. Each soldier has a locker to store items and a

Muskogee Armed Forces Reserve Center WHERE: 6800 S. Cherokee St. EMPLOYEES: 19: 14 military personnel, two civilians and three from the Department of Defense’s Starbase Program. WEBSITE: www.ok.ngb. PHONE: (405) 228-5000.

cage-style locker to store field gear. “The old armory was open, but sectioned off,” Jackson said. “The troops can now store their gear instead of it just being in a pile.” The facility also features a massive training simulator room that will host an Electronic Skills Trainer. “It’s a program that runs through all scenarios,” Jackson said. “It has everything. It lets you train inside the building, and it’s a nice addition to the armory.” Another plus is the number of classrooms in the AFRC, Jackson said. “In the old building, we had one classroom, and we had to share,” Jackson said. “It was kind of a hassle. Now, we’re not stepping on each other any more.” The old armories didn’t have an area for receiving freight and storing supplies.

Staff photo by Mike Carrels

Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Jackson of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 3120th Engineer Support Company, is one of about 20 full-time employees who work at the Muskogee Armed Forces Reserve Center. The center hosts the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1220th Horizontal Company and 1120th Asphalt Team along with the Army Reserve’s 341st and the Department of Defense’s Starbase Program. The 3120th Engineer Support Company serves as host.

This facility has both. Jackson said the building allows those who work there to build a sense of ownership. “It’s a lot better facility,”

Jackson said. “It’s definitely a motivating factor. Not that I didn’t appreciate my job before, but I’m more appreciative I can come into work with more assurance

that I can provide a service and the unit can too. We definitely appreciate it.” Reach Mike Carrels at (918) 684-2922 or mcarrels

Muskogee schools show progress By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Visit any of Muskogee Public Schools’ 14 sites and you likely will hear all sorts of sounds: The click and buzz of moving robots, the intricacies of classical ballet, the hum of simulated airplanes, the swing of a jazz band. Underlying it all is the sound of positive character development. The Muskogee school district, which serves more than 6,200 students, is seeking to be recognized as a National District of Character through the Character Education Partnership. The partnership, which emphasizes positive qualities in students, named Muskogee High School as a National School of Character last May. The National School of Character honor was just one of many signs of progress at the high school. In the last year, Muskogee High School has: • Purchased new software for computer-aided graphic design and animation classes. • Applied with the U.S. Air Force to offer a certified Aviation Honors Ground School program. • Added jazz band as part of its regular school schedule. • Instituted a gospel choir. • Joined other schools in

the district to enhance its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs. MHS art and humanities teacher Ellie Peterson said students recently sampled the software. “And they took to it like a fish to water,” Peterson said. “They designed characters, did a story board.” She said students “learned it very quickly.” Muskogee School Superintendent Mike Garde said he is excited about the high school jazz band and gospel choir. The jazz band has performed at such venues as Arrowhead Mall and the recent Muskogee Chamber of Commerce Banquet. The gospel choir performed at a community Christmas concert. Students also are getting into robotics — in a most competitive way. Teams from Whittier, Creek and Cherokee elementary schools and Ben Franklin Science Academy put LEGO robots together to compete in the First LEGO League Competition. BFSA and Creek teams advanced to a state competition. The Thing I team from Creek placed first at the state competition. Muskogee High School has a “Rougher” version of a robot. An MHS team recently competed in a FIRST Tech Challenge, held at Ben Franklin Science Academy. A Centurion Roughers team, made up of students from

Muskogee Public Schools

Staf photo by Cathy Spaulding

Muskogee High School Junior Air Force ROTC Cadet Michael Perez, left, watches as Cadet Asa Jernigan guides a simulated plane down a computer monitor runway. The MHS program offers an Aviation Honors Ground School program to help students learn basics of flight.

MHS and Indian Capital Technology Center, advanced to a state competition. Robotics are part of the district’s efforts to expand its engineering offerings. MPS recently used a $50,000 Carl Perkins Grant to buy computer programs that teach three-dimensional design software.

Like other districts, Muskogee Public Schools also will spend the next few years incorporating the Common Core Curriculum into all classes. Oklahoma schools are phasing out the old state-mandated curriculum with the Common Core Curriculum. The new standards, considered more rigorous than the current ones,

WHERE: Board of Education Service and Technology Center, 202 W. Broadway. PHONE: (918) 684-3700. WEBSITE: SCHOOLS: • Muskogee High School, 3200 E. Shawnee Bypass, (918) 684-3750. Principal, Dewayne Pemberton. • Alice Robertson Junior High, 402 N. S St. (918) 6843775. Principal, Dr. Edwin Strickland. • Rougher Alternative Academy, 600 Altamont St., (918) 684-3705. Principal, Larry Sholes. • Sadler Arts Academy, 800 Altamont St., (918) 684-3820. Principal, Ronia Davison. • Ben Franklin Science Academy, 300 Virgil Matthews Blvd., (918) 684-3870. Principal, Dr. Justin Walker. • Cherokee Elementary, 24th Street and Estelle Avenue, (918) 684-3890. Principal, Daphne Cotton. • Creek Elementary, 200 S. Country Club Road, (918) 684-3880. Principal, Rick Hoos. • Grant Foreman Elementary, 800 Bacone St., (918) 684-3860. Principal, Kerry Hillmon.

• Harris-Jobe Elementary, 2809 N. Country Club Road, (918) 684-3850. Principal, Kim Fleak. • Irving Elementary, 1100 N. J St., (918) 684-3840. Principal, David Shouse. • Pershing Elementary, 301 N. 54th St., (918) 684-3830. Principal, Vickie Albin. • Tony Goetz Elementary, 2412 Haskell Blvd., (918) 6843810. Principal, Malinda Lindsey. • Whittier Elementary, 1705 Cincinnati Ave. (918) 6843800. Principal, Ed Wallace. • Early Childhood Center, 901 Emporia St., (918) 6843770. Principal, Debra HorseChief. SUPERINTENDENT: Mike Garde. KEY PERSONNEL: John Little, chief financial officer; Jim Wilson, assistant superintendent of Personnel and Support Services; Peggy Jones, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 433 certified, 342 support and 33 certified administrators. ENROLLMENT: 6,253 students. ANNUAL BUDGET: $43,510,000.

take effect in the 2015 school year. “Education needs to be much more relevant, and our STEM program is part of our curriculum that gives our kids real life experiences,” Garde said. “Peggy Jones has been working on unwrapping the common

core standards, to take instruction to a more rigorous level. Dan Hattaway, our math coach, has been working with principals and teachers to shore up our math programs.” Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

Muskogee Phoenix

Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 3

Honor Heights butterfly garden getting close to blooms By Dylan Goforth Phoenix Staff Writer


OCCUPATION: Owner, Blossom's Garden Center. BORN: Muskogee. EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE: Bachelor of Science from the University of Tulsa, 1987. FAMILY: Wife, Lora. HOBBIES: Travel, horticulture. WHAT KEEPS YOU HERE? Family, friends and my garden center business.

that the money is in hand, we’re ready to get moving.” The project, expected to cost $400,000 to complete, was boosted by $200,000 in matching funds from the City of Muskogee Foundation. Weatherbee said the group hasn’t settled on a particular design, yet.

“We don’t want to rush it, there’s a lot to think about,” Weatherbee said. “There’s an existing building on the site, and what’s going on now is we have committees talking about how to make that building useful for our welcome center.” The timeline for completion is “later summer, early fall,” Weatherbee said. “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be done, but you never know what effect weather will have or if any design changes will slow us down. “Some of the donors have given money in honor of their relatives, and we want to make sure we can get those names on the site appropriately. For example, Georgia-Pacific gave a generous donation and they want their name on the

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If things fall just right, one of Muskogee’s greatest treasures will have an even brighter shine by the end of the summer. Honor Heights Park, long known as one of the defining features in the city, will soon be home to the Teaching Gardens and Butterfly Sanctuary, part of the Muskogee Convention and Tourism Bureau’s “Birds, Blooms and Butterflies” theme. Matthew Weatherbee, president of Friends of Honor Heights Park, said the group spent more than three years raising money for the project, which hit its goal last November. “We didn’t really want to officially start anything until the money had been raised,” Weatherbee said. “But now

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Muskogee Phoenix

Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 5

MRMC improves, upgrades facilities By Wendy Burton

Muskogee Regional Medical Center

Phoenix Staff Writer

For Muskogee Regional Medical Center, 2011 was a progressive year. The hospital is particularly pleased with its results in improving patient satisfaction, officials said. Patient surveys were conducted by an independent entity in 2011. Those surveys indicate patient satisfaction was extremely high in the emergency department, cancer center and cardiac catheterization lab — 100 percent satisfaction in some cases. The Cath Lab particularly received high marks, said Christina Deidesheimer, public relations director. On a 0 to 10 scale, the Cath Lab received a 10 when patients were asked to rate the doctors who cared for them. Edith Raney of Muskogee used the Cath Lab recently for a procedure and talked about her experience while recovering. “Well, I tell you, it’s just been wonderful,” Raney said. “I’ve had caths done in Tulsa but I wouldn’t have any other place besides here now,” she said. “Everyone has a great personality, and they’ve stayed by my side through the whole thing. They talked me through it all and made me feel good about it.” In addition to improving patient care, MRMC saw

WHERE: 300 Rockefeller Drive. HOURS AND DAYS OPEN: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. OWNER: The City of Muskogee owns the facility. Capella Healthcare paid $120 million upfront for a 40-year lease. The money enabled the creation of the City of Muskogee Foundation. KEY PERSONNEL: The MRMC executive team is made up of Kevin Fowler, chief executive officer; Jay Gregory, MD, Chief Medical Officer; Matt Romero, chief financial officer; Rose Lopez, chief nursing officer; and Rod Copley, chief quality officer. Additionally, Dwayne Atwell, MD, serves as the president of the medical staff, and the facility has a highly involved Medical Executive Committee and a very committed and engaged Board of Trustees. PHONE: (918) 682-5501. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: There are 784 employees. Of those, 180 of those are nursing staff and 100 are volunteers, including chaplains. In 2011, volunteer staff gave over 22,000 hours. HOW LONG IN BUSINESS: Muskogee Regional Medical Center opened in 1959.

several facility improvements in 2011. The emergency room was completely renovated, including the admissions area. Phase II of work in the

ER waiting room is soon to be complete. In Intensive Care, a program was initiated to reduce the number of skin-related issues and saw a significant decrease in hospital acquired pressure ulcers. Cardiac Services also saw improvements. The Cath Lab began using the “radial approach” on 95 percent of all patients, Deidesheimer said. Certain procedures involve placing catheters in the femoral artery through the groin. The procedure can require a patient to remain still for six hours or more, Deidesheimer said. Physicians using the radial approach use the radial artery instead, often allowing patients to be done in minutes instead of hours. “This is great for patients with other problems such as a bad back so they don’t have to be so uncomfortable,” Deidesheimer said. Improvements to several areas of the hospital are slated for 2012. The Comprehensive Cancer Center will receive a new CT scanner as a complement to the Novalis Tx radiation therapy MRMC began to employ in late 2010. The Novalis Tx machine rotates 360 degrees around the patient and utilizes “leaves” to block radiation precisely — allowing the tumor and not healthy tissue

to be radiated. The new CT scanner, when used in conjunction with Novalis, will reduce any radiation exposure to healthy tissue even more as it will allow the machine to adjust to the patient’s breathing as well. “What this means is

that treatment actually stops and starts based on the rise and fall of the chest, better pinpointing the tumor,” Deidesheimer said. The Cancer Center will also be adding high-dose brachytherapy in 2012. Brachytherapy is an in-

ternal radiation therapy that allows physicians to treat a smaller area in a shorter time. Brachytherapy drastically reduces side effects, Deidesheimer said. Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@


Golden Rule Industries of Muskogee, Inc. is dedicated to providing job opportunities to persons with development disabilities. The overall agency provides training and employment to some 70 persons working in the community - at its four thrift stores and for its Industrial and Janitorial Contracts. Over 75% of these persons have varying degrees of disabilities. This is made possible through the generous donations of used goods for resale from our Community, Local Industrial Contracts, Janitorial Contracts and our Department of Human Services Contracts.

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Golden Rule Industries puts over $700,000 annually back into the tri-county area of Brenda Clark Dir. of Facility-Based Cherokee, Muskogee and Wagoner Contracts, with Jeff at the “clothes baler.” counties in the form of payrolls and other services. In accomplishing our mission of providing job opportunities to persons with developmental disabilities, we are therefore making our community a better place in which to live.

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Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Muskogee Phoenix

Page 6

Garden will extend scope of tourism, official says

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decide to come see the butterfly exhibit during the day and then stay and see a play at Muskogee Little Theatre at night. That’s


front of the butterfly sanctuary, so we have to make sure the design can accommodate that.” The original design for the butterfly sanctuary, Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department Director Mark Wilkerson said, was a “greenhouse-type thing” with netting. But Wilkerson said the design firm they’ve hired has come up with new designs to make it more aesthetically pleasing. “There are a lot of ideas out there, so we’re not sure what it will look like, yet,” Wilkerson said. “But we know it will look good.” One idea is to have a space to host events and activities near the sanctuary, Wilkerson said. That way, it would become an ideal site for weddings or corporate parties. For the gardens, Wilker-

son said he envisions them longer they’re likely to stay. as “trial gardens.” And the longer they stay, “It would be kind of like the more likely they are to demonstration plantings, so spend money. people could come out and “Having a reason to come see what this particular flower or that particular 80439 flower would do in our environment,” Wilkerson said. “I’ve heard them say a theme could be like a xeriscape theme, where, for instance, desert plants that don’t take a lot of water could be grown.” Wilkerson stressed many of these ideas are just examples of what the Friends of Honor Heights Park group is bandying about. “That’s what they’re figuring out right now,” Wilkerson said. “Nailing down these aspects.” The main purpose of the gardens and butterfly sanctuary is to extend the scope of Muskogee’s tourism. The more options people have to spend time in Muskogee, the


Continued from Page 3



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1601 W. Okmulgee, Muskogee, OK Better Sound founder, Steve Dyke, started his career 1976. He moved to Muskogee where Better Sound was established. Here, he found many blessings, establishing a home for the family and the business. Michi started her career in the health care field in 1991. She is a registered nurse and works on providing the best care possible for the patients at Better Sound Hearing Aid Service. Better Sound has grown tremendously in the last few years by providing excellent service to our community and delivering products that work. We are excited to provide the worlds’ largest manufacturers’ technology that gives the patient real results. We are proud to say that from the beginning with two small rooms at the Muskogee office, we have now grown to have five different locations in Oklahoma. We opened an office in Broken Arrow then Tulsa, Jenks and Owasso. This tremendous growth we accredit to the blessings from above and we have done our part with honesty and dedication to our patients, providing the care that is reliable and always here to take care of the product and the patient after any fitting. Our practice is committed to give our community the best product at a reasonable price where everyone that is in need can be helped. Steve and Michi have three children, Christopher, Joseph and Adrianna. They keep us busy and entertained. Three is definitely company. We are blessed to have our family here to help take care of our children. Steve and Michi work at the Muskogee office. From here, with the help from our associates, we are able to manage the other locations. Sharing our life and family here in Muskogee is what we want to do. Muskogee is an excellent place to be a part of and to raise a family.

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Muskogee Phoenix

Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 7

Port tackles economic development By D.E. Smoot Phoenix Staff Writer

WHERE: Three Forks Harbor, 5201 Three Forks Road, Fort Gibson. EMPLOYEES: 10. HOW LONG IN BUSINESS: 48 years. WEBSITES:; PHONE: (918) 682-7886.

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

A tugboat prepares to move barges filled with fly ash, which is transported to New Orleans. Scott Robinson, port authority director said the port set a new record in 2011 for barge traffic. More than 835,224 tons of imported and exported materials passed through the port this past year, up 15.7 percent — or 113,388 tons — from 2010.

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taking and something that would have been easier not to do,” Robinson said. “But having seen the economic development efforts struggle for so many years — really a struggle for funding than anything else — the port was the only viable option to change that picture.” Robinson said the authority was able to keep two key players from Muskogee Development and continue the alliance that entity had cultivated with existing manufacturers. “We don’t have a great program, but we are going to have one,” Robinson said of the authority’s fledgling economic development program. “I want people in Tulsa to say, ‘Hey, look what they are doing down there in Muskogee.’ I think we can do that.” In his first report to the Muskogee City Council since the port authority took on economic development, Robinson said in January that business retention efforts met benchmarks set by the port’s business development office. The report states those efforts facilitated the expansion of 11 projects with six notable successes. Those projects, according to the report, are expected to add an estimated 142 new jobs with average annual salaries of $27,040. Those projects are expected to generate estimated corporate investments totaling $6.16 million. With regard to business recruitment, the report indicates the port’s business development office facilitated 20 projects. Those projects, if completed, have the potential of adding 2,472 new local jobs with average annual salaries of $38,347. Company investments in those projects could total $552.5 million. The Muskogee CityCounty Port Authority was created by an Act of the Oklahoma Legislature in 1963. It’s primary mission is to oversee the orderly development of the Port of Muskogee and the Port Industrial Park and to maximize the use of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@

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FORT GIBSON — A whirlwind of activity in 2011 is propelling the Port of Muskogee into what is projected to be a highly successful year in 2012. Not only was port traffic up in 2011, the Muskogee City-County Port Authority took on this past year the task of overseeing economic and business development activities for the city of Muskogee. Scott Robinson, port authority director, said expanding the port’s original mission has been “a major undertaking.” After just six month into the project, Robinson said he has seen some major gains on that front. As far as port-related activities, Robinson said the port set a new record in 2011 for barge traffic. More than 835,224 tons of imported and exported materials passed through the port this past year, up 15.7 percent — or 113,388 tons — from the 721,836 tons reported in 2010. “It was really up across the board,” Robinson said about the types of cargo that leaves or arrives at the port. “I’m really optimistic for 2012, knowing the projects we are working on will include more cargo traffic. It would be surprising to me if we don’t seen an increase this year.” In addition to barge traffic, Robinson said 2011 was a pretty good year for rail traffic. While it was up 1.47 percent, or 4,634 tons, from the 310,570 tons shipped in 2010, it was still lower than the 360,529 tons shipped before the economy tanked in 2008. “While we are taking on new missions, our original mission we are accomplishing in a pretty good way,” Robinson said. “We’ve added 100 acres of land suitable for development along with other improvements, and that really has raised the profile at the port and generated a lot of new interest.” Other improvements in the works include the construction of a new four-lane bridge leading into the port at the Muskogee Turnpike. “Within the last year, you can see evidence of growth and develop a new understanding of what our vision of what the port can be,” Robinson said. In addition to the port’s traditional activities, the port authority contracted with the city of Muskogee to tackle economic development and the recruitment of new business. It assumed those duties, which had been the responsibility of Greater Muskogee Development Corporation, in July. “It was a major under-

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Outlook 2012

Growing services

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Brittany Davis of Hilldale uses paper to draw a thumbnail draft of what she plans to put on the screen using advanced graphics software available at Indian Capital Technology Center. Graphic communications is one of many classes available at Indian Capital Technology Center.

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Outlook 2012 Growth satisfies needs at Fort Gibson Schools Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Muskogee Phoenix

By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Physical education class becomes a flurry of activity in Fort Gibson Public Schools’ new multipurpose building. Third-graders somersault along red-and-white mats, try their quickness at pingpong, bowl, even shoot some hoops. “We’re able to do so many things in here,” PE teacher Carol Scott said. “There were no basketball goals in our old PE room. And this is three times the size. There is much more room to move around.” The multipurpose building, which opened at the start of the 2012 school year, is just one sign of Fort Gibson’s growth and progress over the past year. Fort Gibson High School has a fresh look for

its auditorium as well as a new meeting and eating area for students. By next fall, the visitors’ side at the football stadium will have a press box. The multipurpose building, high school work and press box were funded by a $5.85 million bond issue district voters approved in 2008. School Superintendent Derald Glover said the new and improved buildings satisfy the district’s needs. “We’ll not be building any more unless we need it,” Glover said. “With our buildings and space, I feel very comfortable now. We’ll still need bond issues for transportation, computers and general upkeep of the buildings. Everyone’s always excited to have such new buildings, but it’s more important to have something useful.”

The multipurpose building features a gym with a basketball court. A stage on one side enables the gym to be used as an auditorium. The building also has classrooms for music and art as well as a library that doubles as a storm shelter. Intermediate Elementary School Principal Sherry Rybolt said all IES and Early Learning Center students can fit into the room if a storm hits. The new and improved buildings are the outward sign of Fort Gibson’s progress, Glover said. Inside the schools, teachers and administrators have been busy working on ways to prepare for the Common Core Curriculum. Schools across Oklahoma are phasing out the old state-mandated curriculum with a new set of class

Fort Gibson Public Schools

WHERE: 500 S. Ross St. PHONE: (918) 478-2474. WEBSITE: www.ftgibson. SCHOOLS: • High School, 500 S. Ross St., (918) 478-2452. Gary Sparks, principal. • Middle School, 500 S. Ross St., (918) 478-2471. Greg Phares, principal. • Intermediate Elementary, 500 S. Ross, (918) 478-2465. Sherry Rybolt, principal. • Early Learning Center, 500 S. Ross, (918) 478-4841. Phyllis Kindle, principal. SUPERINTENDENT: Derald Glover. KEY PERSONNEL: Assistant Superintendent Linda Clinkenbeard; Special Services director, Marilyn Dewoody. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 240. ENROLLMENT: 1,867. ANNUAL BUDGET: $10.9 million.

Page 10

requirements — the Common Core Curriculum. The new standards, considered more rigorous than the current ones, take effect in the 2015 school year. Fort Gibson’s faculty members meet in teams at least once a week to work on the curriculum, Glover said. The teams meet for an hour each Wednesday afternoon, giving Fort Gibson students a shorter school day that day. “This will give the teachers time to transition from current standards to the Common Core,” Glover said. “Now they are focusing on the national test (which will go with the new curriculum). The old state standards were based on memorization. The new standards will require students to think for themselves.” He said teachers are de-

veloping a “common way to teach reading, writing, reasoning and speaking in every class and every activity.” Next year, teachers work on converting Fort Gibson to a digital curriculum, meaning fewer textbooks, Glover said. Fort Gibson High School teachers also have worked to get seniors more prepared for college. Boosted by a $10,000 grant from AT&T, the school is working with Northeastern State University on ways to improve scores on the ACT entrance exam. The grant helps students take an ACT prep class at NSU and pay for diagnostics test administered through ACT COMPASS program. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

ICTC gives students opportunity By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

It takes Dore Riffe of Porum a few clicks of a mouse to lay out a graphic blue identification sticker — and to lay out a potential career. “This is the first step to my career pursuit,” said Riffe, who is taking a second-year graphic communications class at Indian Capital Technology Center. “I plan to go on to Okmulgee Tech (OSU Institute of Technology) and learn 3-D graphics.” With four campuses in Muskogee, Tahlequah, Stilwell and Sallisaw, Indian Capital Technology Center gives thousands of adult students that vital “first step” toward profitable careers. ICTC also seeks to meet job demands training demands of area employers. “We give students the opportunity to better themselves, learn skills, earn cer-

tification, go to work or earn college credit,” said Kathy West, ICTC student services director. She said ICTC keeps up with the latest technology and job demands. For example, ICTC’s Muskogee campus recently added a nursing transition program, and Sallisaw offers new courses in being a residential construction technician. With such a variety, ICTC draws 1,414 students who take classes as career majors. Another 2,150 students are in its adult career development program. The ICTC graphic design program has helped steer students into jobs with printers and publishers, graphic communications instructor Cheryl Miller said. “We do a lot of different graphic designs,” Miller said. Indian Capital’s largest enrollment comes from area businesses.


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it opened in 2009, said President Mark Roberts. “We continue to see 918-391-3145 • 918-348-4342 steady growth year over year and feel honored to be chosen as Muskogee's Busiof the Year,” Roberts SANTINI & SONS ness said. Specializing in The volume of patients at ★ HOME ★ the hospital has increased DELIVERIES Furniture, Appliances, Etc. at a rate exceeding projec“Don’t spend a lot of money on a little move” tions and is expected to see 918-577-8801 more growth in 2012, he said. “The hospital is consistently in the top 1 to 4 percentile in the nation on pa✔ LANDSCAPING tient recommendations month after month, and ✔ Complete that contrast continues to Lawn Care award MCH more opportunities to grow in the mar✔ Weed Spraying ket.” Roberts said. The ability to satisfy the Residential/


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well, he said, and has been a challenge with great rewards. MCH tries to create an environment in which the patient feels comfortable, understood and cared for, he said.

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Mammography Technician Ashley Graves explains how she’ll perform a mammogram to patient Kari Coleman of patients and their families Checotah at Muskogee Community Hospital. Coleman is something MCH does said she chose to use MCH because of its digital technology and excellent patient care.



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video conferencing capabilities throughout the district. Individual campuses also could see changes over the next few years. For example, the Muskogee campus is expanding the culinary arts classroom and updating facilities for a new health-related career major. Tahlequah is remodeling its emergency medical technician training facility. Sallisaw is adding a certified safety training center. Goals for coming years include: • Adding online opportunities for skill development. • Continuing to work with public schools and higher education institutions to improve access and opportunities. • Provide more national credential and certification opportunities. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

Muskogee Community Hospital

Phoenix Staff Writer

Muskogee Community AJ’S LAWNS Hospital continues to expeTREE & HAULING rience steady growth since


trict succeed, to attract new business to our state, and to strengthen business practices already in place,” Stiles said. “Collectively, our ideas, efforts and resources create an environment where each student can learn new skills and businesses can develop new, customized tools that strengthen their bottom line.” Through such training, ICTC has reached out to help workers when plants downsize or close. “We went to Whirlpool when they closed their plant in Fort Smith, Ark., to see what we can do to retrain that population,” West said. Whirlpool officials announced plans to close the plant in mid2012, affecting nearly 1,000 employees. West said Sallisaw and Stilwell campuses are ready to help employees affected by the closing. ICTC also is updating

MCH sees steady success since 2009


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“No one is here because they want to stay in a hospital. They’re here to get better,” Roberts said. “Our job is to be the best at getting them better.” Roberts said physicians and nurses at MCH work to understand the patient’s point of view. “The stress a family can go through when one of their loved ones is sick or needs surgery is sometimes unbearable, and our job is to make sure we give the information they need to stay informed and the care they need to get through it,” Roberts said. Some of the most vulnerable time a family experiences is when they see a love one sick or hurting, he said. “We all know a family member would do whatever they could to get them better,” Roberts said. “Our number one focus at MCH is to use our expertise to do the same thing.” Roberts said the best interest of the patient was taken into account for every decision made in building and operating the facility. State-of-the-art technology and efficiency allow MCH to focus on the patient, he said. Being the first hospital in

the US to utilize a 100 percent geothermal system for heating and cooling that also uses ultraviolet light to clean the air has had a profound impact on infection rates. “The clean air has gotten the attention of the state officials as they saw lower infection rates than any other hospital in the state,” Roberts said. The hospital also was the first in the US to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star for design. MCH recycled 76 percent of its construction waste and focused on eliminated allergens, carcinogens and endocrine disrupters from building materials to further protect its patients, he said. Recycled materials were used in ceiling tiles, carpet, flooring, steel and concrete. MCH also utilizes three large detention ponds that serve as storage units for all the sand, sediment and storm drainage as well as landscaped areas for patients’ and employees’ enjoyment. The landscaping utilizes a system that reduces evaporation in the landscape (See MCH, Page 11)

Outlook 2012

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 11

MCH more efficient Continued from Page 10

watering and a sanitary sewer system that recaptures treated water and irrigates the grasses, trees, shrubs and flowers. MCH is 24 percent more efficient than a typical hospital because of its focus on being “green” during construction, Roberts said. Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@

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Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Muskogee Phoenix

Page 12

Technology tops at OSB By Cathy Spaulding

Oklahoma School for the Blind

Phoenix Staff Writer

Triad Eye Medical Center has a simple philosophy, Better vision through personalized patient care using the very best methods performed by highly-skilled physicians & staff. Triad Eye Medical Clinic has been Green Country’s choice for Vision Care for over 25 years.

Things are hopping at Oklahoma School for the Blind — fluffy things with big ears and twitchy noses. OSB students are raising rabbits as part of the school’s new 4-H Club. “They’re lots of work and lots of responsibility,” said 12-year-old OSB student Holly Felkins of Collinsville. “But if you love animals as much as I do, it’s worth it.” The rabbits aren’t the new things at OSB. The school, which serves nearly 100 students from across Oklahoma, constantly strives to keep up with the latest in technology, as well as trends in education and rehabilitation. This year, however, the rabbits keep the kids talking — and learning. Muskogee’s Morning Lions Club donated money for the rabbit program, said OSB dean of students Lynn A. Cragg. The rabbits arrived earlier this year. Students learn to feed the rabbits and exhibit them at shows. “The 4-H program is a

WHERE: 3300 Gibson St. PHONE: (918) 781-8200. WEBSITE: SUPERINTENDENT: James C. Adams. KEY PERSONNEL: Principal: Carolyn K. Sheppard. Dean of Students: Lynn A. Cragg. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 91. ENROLLMENT: 97. ANNUAL BUDGET: $8,203,050. Includes funding for the residential and commuter student programs, Summer Enrichment program and thousands of outreach services to students attending local schools, their parents and local school systems.

wonderful benefit for our students,” said OSB Principal Carolyn Sheppard. “They’re working on developing responsibility. Some even take the rabbits home over the weekend. It’s just a wonderful extension, especially for our residential students.” Cragg said the rabbits not only have helped the stu80734

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dents learn responsibility, but also help them develop self-confidence and cure some homesickness. According to the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, 44 students live in campus housing. Some come from as far away as western Oklahoma. The school plans to have a rabbit show this spring, Cragg said. OSB students also are working on other competitions. “This fall, we’ll have the Braille Challenge,” Cragg said. “We’re in the process of getting new iPads for our students,” Sheppard said. “It was part of the technology grant we received. We’re doing training with our staff on possible uses in the classroom.” Sheppard said the school now has nearly four of these tablet computers and hopes to get more. OSB received a $20,000 grant last fall from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Officials with the foundation said the school could use the money at its discretion. School officials said it would help keep technology up to date. OSB Superintendent Jim Adams said he now wants students to develop their financial and banking skills with an automatic teller machine. Founded in 1897, Oklahoma School for the Blind reaches beyond Muskogee to help students. This year, students are coming from 36 counties. School staff members pay close attention to their students with a teacher/student ratio of 1-to-3 and a direct care specialist/student ratio of 1-to-4. OSB offers thousands of free outreach service hours each year for students attending local schools. Qualified staff members offer free student evaluations, in-service training for teachers, recommendations for classroom modifications and special equipment for public schools. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

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Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Outlook 2012 Page 13

Checotah sees improvements By D.E. Smoot Phoenix Staff Writer


CHECOTAH — This McIntosh County town of about 3,500 residents is on the move, completing infrastructural improvement projects this past year totaling nearly $6.5 million. “Everything we’ve done here is designed to carry us far into the future,� Mayor Marvin Nichols said of recent street, water and sewer projects. “This town is beginning to grow, it’s starting to show — we’ve just got to keep up with the growth.� Among the improvements cited by Nichols are $1.2 million sewer line upgrades and a new $5.2 million water treatment plant. Nichols said the city also tries to resurface from 15 to 20 blocks annually, but that was down a little in 2010 because of a larger project on a major street. Nichols said the sewer line upgrades included the replacement and expansion of smaller, deteriorating lines. The North Avenue project, which carries about 50 percent of the city’s sewage, involved the replacement of an 8inch line with 12-inch piping. In addition to providing water to Checotah residents, Nichols said the new, state-of-the-art water plant serves a number of outlying water districts, which generates revenue for the city. Nichols said a new livestock barn north of the city is beginning to catch on with area residents, and there are plans in the works for the possible construction of a credit union. The public works projects, Nichols said, will enable the city to serve more industrial users the city hopes to attract during the coming years. Checotah began in the 1830s as a settlement of Creek Indians who settled there after their removal

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City of Checotah POPULATION: 3,481. MUNICIPAL BUILDING: Checotah City Hall, 414 W. Gentry Ave. HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MAYOR: Marvin Nichols. KEY PERSONNEL: City Clerk Shirley Fox; City Treasurer Bette Sanders. NUMBER OF CITY EMPLOYEES: 52. BUDGET FOR 2011-12: Total appropriations of $12,055,600. PHONE: (918) 473-5411. ETC.:

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from Alabama. The town is located at the intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 69, which carry about 20,000 motorists a day, and are within a few miles of Lake Eufaula. While census data show Staff photo by D.E. Smoot the city’s population deMike Creekbaum, superintendent of Checotah’s water clined during the past 10 treatment plant, monitors the system and the flow of years — from 3,481 in water from a laptop computer in the facility’s laboratory. 2000 to 3,335 in 2010, a drop of 4.2 percent — a Walmart Supercenter and % Atwoods draw customers A.P.R. from the lake and sur+ Deferred Payments Until April 2012* rounding rural areas. + Customer Instant Rebate It Pays to Own Orange Bette Sanders, Checotah’s director of finance, said the city’s total appropriations of nearly $12.06 million for the 2012 fiscal year is good for a town its size. “We’ve done really well, and the supervisors do a good job of holding down ZD331 expenses,â€? Sanders said. “We’ve been fortunate to have those kinds of retail stores come in, and that really helps with sales tax collections.â€? According to 2010 redisThis is the year to reward yourself with a new Kubota. You can get 0% A.P.R. ďŹ nancing tricting data gleaned from for up to 5 years with deferred payments until April 2012 and a Customer Instant Rebate the U.S. Census Bureau, on Kubota Z Series zero-turn mowers. Offers end March 31, 2012. there are 1,528 housing units in Checotah. The city’s occupancy rate is Aceco Rental & Sales 86.9 percent. According to 1125 West Shawnee the city’s website, the meMuskogee, OK 74401 (918) 682-8444 dian price for a home is $50,500. Average household income is $22,029. Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@ 80450

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS JENNIFER GADDY Good Neighbor Hospice 1122 N. Main Muskogee, OK 74401 918-681-4988

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Jack and Jill Learning Center is locally owned and operated by Jennifer Schuler and Carolyn Downs. Carolyn retired from Muskogee Public Schools in 1998 and together with her daughter, Jennifer, they purchased Jack and Jill. Carolyn has a degree in Child Development and Jennifer graduated from Northeastern State University in 2008 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Jack and Jill Learning Center is a DHS licensed, two-star center. We have been voted “Best Day Care� for 7 years in the Muskogee Phoenix Reader’s Choice Awards. We offer fun, exciting, age-appropriate activities for children in all stages of development. We base our program activities on our knowledge of how children develop and learn and we respect and support families in their task of nurturing children.

Since 2007 Good Neighbor Hospice has been an independent, “non-chain� hospice care provider located in the beautiful city of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Good Neighbor Hospice is owned by Robert Gaddy DPH. You can expect the same personal, and quality service that made Gaddy Drug a success for over 35 years. Jennifer and Robert Gaddy and Cindy Johnson have over 50 years of combined experience and are dedicated to serving the Muskogee Community. 72462


KATHY BLACK Administrator York Manor Nursing Center 500 South York Muskogee, Ok 74403 918-682-6724


Hello, my name is Kathy Black. I have been the Administrator at York Manor for 10 years. The question that is often asked of me is “How do you work in a care center isn’t it depressing?� I simply answer “NO� it’s very rewarding knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of the elderly and providing them the best quality of life they deserve. Having to make the decision to place your loved one in a care center is a difficult one. We at York Manor try to help put your concern’s at rest by taking the time to get to know your loved one. My advice to you is be prepared with questions and drop by without an appointment so you can see first hand how the employee’s interact with the residents. I love my job and have the most caring staff. Thank you, Muskogee for all your support.

1101 W. Shawnee Bypass Muskogee, Ok 918-682-9333 Cooper’s Furniture has been owned and operated by Louise Cooper Richards for the past Louise & Cindy 37 years, and her daughter Cindy Dennis for the last 13 years. Muskogee and the surrounding areas have wonderful and loyal customers who really want to buy “locallyâ€?. We do everything we can to meet their needs. If we don’t have it our accommodating staff will try to get it. We have just gotten back from the Las Vegas Market and have many new items arriving daily. Beautiful bombĂŠ chests and eclectic pieces add such a “homeyâ€? atmosphere. Let us help you make your house a home. Thank you Muskogee and surrounding areas for your loyal support and friendship. 72453

John Randolph Cherokee Temps, Inc. 928 N. York Ste 11 • Muskogee • 682-1457

CHILD PLACING PARENT IN NURSING HOME Q: How will my Dad pay for his expenses if all Mom’s money goes to the Nursing Home? A: The state well recognizes that the spouse still needs to be a home and her monies will still be available to Dad in order for his life not to change financially.

Modesta Worthen, Administrator

Brentwood Extended Care & Rehab 841 N. 38th Street • Muskogee (918) 683-8070 72466

VICKI LIEBIG Country Gardens 918-686-8100 My name is Vicki Liebig, and I have lived in Muskogee all of my life. I am married to Mark for 30 years, we have 2 sons, Chris and Ryan, our daughter-inlaw Sadie and grandson Lucas. I have been involved in the senior community for many years as a community volunteer, and have been in my current position at Country Gardens Assisted Living Community for almost 4 years. I am responsible for the admissions process and I am the outside liaison. I love my job at Country Gardens, and all of my residents. I take great pride in my Community and feel that we definitely make a difference in the lives of our residents and their families.


Jack and Jill Learning Center

A: The hiring process is a burden to most businesses: recruiting, interviewing, background checks, drug screens, safety training, taxes, workers’ compensation, etc. All of these are costly in both time and money. Then post employment issues such as unemployment can cost you for years to come. A Staffing / Administrative company like Cherokee Temps can handle all of those issues and many more depending on each companies needs. The cost of using a staffing company is acceptable, when compared to the time and money involved in a company doing it on their own. Using a Staffing company can allow an owner, or supervisor of a business to get back to running their own business and making it grow.

MODESTA WORTHEN Brentwood Extended Care & Rehab 918-683-8070 I moved from California to Oklahoma November 1994. I was looking for Mayberry to raise my son in a safe community as I was able to as a child in the Mojave dessert. Oklahoma has been an adventure that became a way of life. I can remember the first time I drove right passed a funeral in progress and everyone in the vehicles looked at me as if I should be dead, when I spoke of it to co-workers they laughed and asked do you stop for school buses in California. Oklahomans are for the most part darn good people. I was blessed to find employment at First National Bank of Sallisaw in the EDP department that was fun and exciting working in an office and dressing fancy every day. The Lord at that point had to take the reigns and lead me to where I feel my calling would be and that was as an administrator. I was employed at Sequoyah Manor in Sallisaw as a Certified Nurse Aide I though I was going to die as the work was so physical and demanding my back was killing me after one week I thought how could these Aides continue to do this for years as my co-worker had been an aide for 25 years I could not imagine my body lasting that long. I remember praying and asking Our gracious Heavenly Father to help me be the best I could and my request was answered I became one of the best Aides and the residents I cared for were happy and healthy that is what we as care givers stride for a quality of life worth living. After a few months I received a phone call from a friend who worked for a nursing home organization looking for a receptionist I was employed and that was all I needed to get my foot in the door. After a year I worked my way up the Administrative assistant to the President and Vice President of the company primarily for the Vice President but when the President says jump you jump. At LTC Services I was blessed to attend the University of Oklahoma and complete a course offered through the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners for Long Term Care Administrators and receive my license to become to become an Administrator. I have been a Long Term Care Administrator since 2004 and talk about adventures I am on a real exciting one, maybe I should say roller coaster ride as it has shown me many feelings of fear, excitement, joy, laughter and the most important LOVE. As an Administrator I was blessed to be an example, a teacher, a mentor, a lead, a counselor and most important a listener. At Brentwood Extended Care & Rehab as the Administrator I along with my Administrative staff believe that we can make a difference in the lives of the people we come in contact with, we can make it a better world, at Brentwood we have. Being a woman in awesome I have been blessed with qualities which have called me to this career. I love being a Long Term Care Administrator, I always have someone I can help in some way. There is a gospel hymn which says have you helped someone today, have you made someone fell better today, I can say that when I go home I have helped someone today and that is a good feeling and the best reward is I get paid to do it. Treat others as you would like to be treated and it will be brought back to in the same manner, I want to testify that I am a product of those who taught, lead and mentored me. A closing word, If you want to respected, be respectable. If you want to be liked, be likable. If you want to be loved, be lovable. If you want to be employed be employable. 72474

Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Muskogee Phoenix

Page 14

New wing at TCH comes just in time Expansion meets growth, increased demand for services By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — The most obvious sign of Tahlequah City Hospital’s recent growth rises three stories behind the main hospital. It’s the hospital’s new 60,000-

square-foot wing, which features doctors’ offices and a dialysis center. “It’s been open about six months,” TCH vice president of ancillary services Mark McCroskey said as he walked the hospital’s winding halls. “We have dialysis on the first floor, medical offices and administrative offices on the other floors. In our basement, we have the physicians’ lounge and records.” The hospital’s new wing comes at just the right time, McCroskey said. “We had just experienced great growth and we had to birth this

thing,” he said. The hospital grows by seeking to meet the health care needs of Cherokee County and beyond. “We’re all on the same mission to serve the region’s health needs and ease the health burdens,” said Brian Woodliff, TCH president and chief executive officer. Woodliff listed cancer, heart disease and diabetes as the region’s greatest health care burdens — the ones which kill the most people. “Younger people are dying in accidents, so we meet that burden with our emergency depart-

ment,” Woodliff said. TCH communications coordinator Ami Maddocks said Woodliff and the hospital’s board of trustees share a vision — that everyone in every department works together as a team. “He includes every department director to help set goals for the year,” Maddocks said. “He’s good at communicating his vision.” McCroskey described this vision as “if we’re not growing, we’re decaying; if we stay in one spot, we’re not moving.” The hospital traces its history

Tahlequah City Hospital WHERE: 1400 E. Downing St., Tahlequah. HOURS: Open 24 hours. OWNER: Tahlequah Hospital Authority; Tahlequah mayor and city council trustees. KEY PERSONNEL: President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Woodliff; Executive Vice President of Operations David McClain; Vice President of Finance Julie Ward; Vice President of Ancillary Services, Mark McCroskey, Vice President of Performance Improvement, Donna Dallis; Vice President of Human Resources, Phyllis Smith; Vice President of Patient Care, Connie Davis. PHONE: (918) 456-0641. WEBSITE:

(See NEXT, Page 15)

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Outlook 2012 Wagoner hospital has $10M impact on community

Muskogee Phoenix

By Wendy Burton Phoenix Staff Writer

WAGONER — Wagoner Community Hospital officials say the hospital did well in 2011, and 2012 promises to bring new or expanded services to the community. WCH saw some changes in 2011 hospital employees are proud of, including becoming smoke-free on Jan. 1, 2011, said Johnna Blair, business development director. “We’re really excited we made the leap to do that,” Blair said. “But probably the biggest event was being named Business of the Year in April.” The Wagoner Chamber of Commerce named WCH best business for the first time since the hospital was established in 1973, Blair said. When the award was presented April 14, Chamber President Brenda Lee said CEO Jimmy Leopard “has done a marvelous job in turning around the operations of the hospital by recruiting physicians and improving community service.” A new service for pregnant women began in February, Blair said. A physician from Tulsa

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

provides all prenatal care for women at WCH one day a week. The women deliver at Southcrest Hospital in Tulsa. “This has worked out very well for the women, being able to have their prenatal care much closer to home,” Blair said. In May, Wagoner Public Schools Athletics Department awarded WCH the 2010-2011 Dr. Robert A. Hughes Friend of Youth award. New technology came on board in 2011 that greatly reduced wait time for patients. Hospital staff are particularly excited about going digital with mammography — meaning women can get the best technology available for their testing in Wagoner rather than driving to Tulsa, Blair said. “We are now completely digitized, no more films,” she said. Lead Technologist David Ott said the new machine makes the experience of having a mammogram much more pleasant for women. “The acquisition time is quicker now, meaning the patient is compressed for a much shorter time,” Ott said.

Page 15

Wagoner Community Hospital WHERE: 1200 W. Cherokee St., Wagoner. KEY EMPLOYEES: Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Leopard, Chief Financial Officer Rod Shook, Chief Nursing Officer Louise Easter, Chief of Staff Dr. John Perry, Chairman-Wagoner Hospital Authority Debi Hamilton. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 191. HOW LONG IN BUSINESS: Since 1973. WEBSITE: PHONE: (918) 485-5514.

Staff photo by Wendy Burton

New digital mammography at Wagoner Community Hospital allows women to get faster, more accurate readings.

Additionally, some women had to do several rounds of compression to get a good view, but the new digital machine is larger and able to reduce that to one round. “We’ve had to do this up to eight times for some

women, but since getting this machine, we’ve never had to do the procedure more than once,” Ott said. For 2012, WCH will continue to develop and implement additional clinical services and improve customer service, Blair said.

“WCH alone has an impact on the Wagoner economy of nearly $10 million,” she said. “Plus, we are actively involved and support various activities including Relay For Life, Wagoner County Tobacco Use Prevention, and Wagoner Area

Neighbors Bell Ringers.” Additionally, Blair said, WCH continues to offer sleep studies, general surgery, neurology, and orthopedics. Senior Services moved into a new building on the campus the first of the year. The program is designed for clients 55 and older experiencing emotional stress. WCH is in negotiations to add new lines of service, which will be announced soon, she said. Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton

W.W. Hastings touts nearly 30 improvements TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital is looking ahead to a big year with multiple construction and remodeling projects expected to be completed. Hastings was built in 1984 and employed 280 people. Now, it employees around 700, said Steven Seikel, special projects officer. The hospital has 58 inpatient beds, a dental clinic, optometry, and much more. But quarters are getting tight with the number of patients served there — about 250,000 a year, he said. So, the hospital is undergoing several large projects that will remedy the close quarters. The emergency room is undergoing a full remodel, including the waiting room area. The ER will be relocated to the west side of the hospital, creating an entrance much more accessible to patients and ambulances, Seikel said. The waiting room will be much larger as well as the patient area. All the vital medical equipment in use has already been updated, Seikel said. The emergency room

Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital WHERE: 100 S. Bliss Ave., Tahlequah. HOURS: 24 hours. OWNER: Cherokee Nation Health Services. KEY PERSONNEL: Dr. Gloria Grim, group leader of Health Services; Dr. Charles Grim, senior director of Health Services; Dr. Schuyler Steelburg, medical director for Health Services; Rhonda Cochran, clinic director over all Cherokee Nation clinics. PHONE: (918) 458-3100. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: More than 700. HOW LONG IN BUSINESS: Hospital was built in 1984.

project is expected to be complete Sept. 1. A full remodel and relocation of the women’s postpartum unit is under way as well. Additionally, a new support services building has been completed and houses housekeeping, the warehouse and other facilities. The annex building has been remodeled and is now being expanded. Optometry, which is now cramped in the main hospital, will move over to the annex building when work is complete. The building will hold podiatry, optometry and

physical therapy. Additionally, access will be created from Ross Street, which is going to be extremely helpful, Seikel said. There is only one entrance in and out of Hastings now. The long list of expansion and remodeling is projected to improve patient care and allow Hastings to treat even more patients. The Cherokee Nation recently received an award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region allowing them to buy 30 iPads for health care professionals at Hastings. The new devices will be equipped with multiple health information databases providing information to health care professionals and patients at the touch of a finger. “We’re in the process of creating an innovation cenStaff photo by Wendy Burton ter,” Seikel said. “We curThe annex building shown is being doubled in size. Additionally, a second entrance rently have 28 improveto the hospital will be created from Ross Street with this project. ment projects under way. With one we’ve had a breakthrough innovation in the sterilization process.” The 28 projects are intended to improve patient experience and quality of ATHY EWITT care throughout the entire system, he said. CPA, INC., P.C. Reach Wendy Burton at Who do we really (918) 684-2926 or wburton@ TAXES & ACCOUNTING love? LTC Insurance PERSONAL • ESTATES



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ter,” he said. Maddocks said the vision of the board and staff has enabled TCH to defy people’s notions of a “rural hospital.” “We partner with experts in the field,” Maddocks said. “We work with one of the best dialysis centers in the nation and partner with the best nephrologists in the field. We work with the best cardiologists in the field.” The hospital also boasts a strong volunteer auxiliary, Maddocks said. The auxiliary runs the hospital gift shop to raise money for hospital services. “They provide scholarships to employees and raise money for equipment such as walkers, anything that might be needed,” she said. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or



to the 1920s, when a retired army nurse converted a house into a nine-bed hospital. In 1974, the Tahlequah Hospital Authority was created. The Tahlequah mayor and city council were named as authority trustees. The city was named as the beneficiary. A new two-story hospital was built in 1977, with a third floor added in 1984. A new west wing was added around 2008, housing women’s diagnostic services, a maternity center and an Alzheimer’s Dementia unit. The west wing also includes the new Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center, which offers radiation and chemotherapy to cancer patients throughout northeast Oklahoma. TCH opened its the Northeast Oklahoma

Heart Center in 2005 and a cardiac rehabilitation unit in 2007. The unit offers a team-based approach to helping people overcome heart disease. “We work with them pretty much to the end, to rehabilitation and exercise,” Maddocks said. The cardiac unit continues to grow. McCroskey said TCH is clearing a room for a second cardiac CT scanner. Tahlequah City Hospital currently is a 100-bed facility. “And we’re looking at adding an additional floor,” McCroskey said. “We also bought some land to the east of the hospital.” TCH, which operates a clinic in Fort Gibson, also plans to open a dialysis facility in Sallisaw, McCroskey said. “Next year, we’re looking to expand and build an ambulatory surgery cen-



‘Next year, we’re looking to expand and build an ambulatory surgery center’ Continued from Page 14



Phoenix Staff Writer


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President’s Statement - 2012 Throughout the 92 year history of our organization, the Muskogee Association of REALTORS has weathered various economic cycles. We are masters at our craft; our profession is unique and necessary. American’s have faced tough challenges in recent years. Unemployment and declining housing markets have been at the forefront in many geographical areas across our nation. Fortunately, Oklahomans have not been as severely affected in the area of real estate and our local community has experienced growth. We remain committed to servicing the real estate and lending needs of our citizens to further the American Dream of homeownership. Respectfully, Stan Miller, Broker; Century 21 Clinkenbeard Agency, Muskogee

2012 Board of Directors, Muskogee Association of REALTORS Officers President: Pres-Elect: Vice Pres: Past President: Secy/Treaurer: Executive Officer: Director: Director: State Director: Associate Director: Associate Director:

Stan Miller; Century 21 Clinkenbeard Agency, Muskogee Steve Clinkenbeard; Century 21 Clinkenbeard Agency, Ft. Gibson Gary Dunlap; ReMax of Muskogee Earnie Gilder; Interstate Properties Gloria Berner-Hellen; Berner Real Estate Karen Bradley; Muskogee Assn of REALTORS Lake Moore; Lake Moore Real Estate Nick Fuller; Prudential Fuller Agency Sherri Jones; Prospectors Real Estate Vonda Haddock; Prudential Fuller Agency Stacy Alexander; ReMax of Muskogee

918-682-9490 “The Muskogee Association of REALTORS strives to facilitate the success of all members and to advance the interests and professionalism in real estate while protecting private property rights.”

Karen Bradley Association Executive Officer, Muskogee Assoc. of REALTORS, Inc.

Outlook 2012

Increasing services

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Hilldale Elementary Principal Kair Ridenhour shows kindergartners Elise Bryant, left, and Nadia Parker how to spell their names on an overhead projector.

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Outlook 2012 Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 18

API scores continue to rise at Hilldale By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Story time takes a little longer for kindergartners at Hilldale Lower Elementary School this year. Students not only hear the story but learn about the author, follow the plot, and find out why Character A did that to Character B. “During story time, teachers ask questions, lots of questions,” Hilldale Elementary Principal Kair Ridenhour said. “The teachers are always asking questions for everything we do.” Questions during story time are part of tougher standards coming through the Common Core Curriculum. The curriculum is replacing the old state-mandated curriculum, called the Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) Objectives, at schools across Oklahoma.

The Common Core Curriculum, which is considered more rigorous than the PASS Objectives, is to take effect in the 2015 school year. Superintendent D.B. Merrill echoed other area school leaders in saying the Common Core Curriculum is the biggest change facing Hilldale schools. However, while other districts are planning and meeting to hash out the new standards, Hilldale teachers in grades kindergarten through second grade already use the new curriculum, he said. “It seems to be really successful,” Merrill said. “Teachers are receiving it well.” Ridenhour said the new Common Core Curriculum has fewer standards than the PASS Objectives. However, these fewer standards are tougher and clearer

than previous standards, he said. “A lot of the new learning objectives are the same (as the PASS Objectives), but the standards are tougher,” said Assistant Hilldale Superintendent Faye Garrison. For example, under the new standards, secondgraders would be expected to learn what third-graders are learning, she said. “The strategy is to get lessons on a higher level of learning.” The district has been able to weave the new curriculum into the lowest grades because those grades have not started testing, Garrison said. “In grades three, four and five, we are still making sure students learn the PASS Objectives,” Garrison said. “In the elementary school, every grade level has its planning period at the same time.”

“Teachers in upper grades are spending their professional development times working on the new curriculum,” Garrison said. “We’ve used five professional days so far.” “We’re still looking for ways to motivate students or students’ learning,” Merrill said. Hilldale schools also are committed to helping today’s students. For example, Hilldale Middle School honors classes offer students more rigorous and advanced learning experiences in four areas: science, math, English and American history. Emphasis not only is on the state curriculum, but in developing higher level thinking skills. Students who meet honor and academic expectations may remain in the honors courses. Such emphasis pays off

in later years. Hilldale High School’s Academic Team recently won a regional championship. All four Hilldale schools continue to raise their Academic Performance Index scores. The scores are based on standardized test scores as well as attendance. Hilldale also helps build students physically, and not just its Hornet athletic teams. Since the fall of 2010, at least 14 Hilldale elementary students have received the President’s Physical Fitness Award. They earn the award by running, flexing and stretching their way through the President’s Challenge fitness test. The school was awarded a State Champion Award in 2011. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

Hilldale Public Schools WHERE: Main office, 500 E. Smith Ferry Road. PHONE: (918) 683-0273. WEBSITE: SCHOOLS: • High School, 300 E. Smith Ferry Road, (918) 683-3253. Principal, Deborah Tennison. • Middle School, 400 E. Smith Ferry Road, (918) 6830763. Principal, Darren Riddle. • Upper Elementary, 315 E. Peak Blvd., (918) 683-1101. Principal, Kair Ridenhour. • Lower Elementary, 3301 Grandview Park, (918) 6839758. Principal, Kair Ridenhour. SUPERINTENDENT: D.B. Merrill KEY PERSONNEL: Faye Garrison, assistant superintendent; Erik Puckett, assistant superintendent. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 130 certified staff; 58 support staff. ENROLLMENT: Around 1,800 students. ANNUAL BUDGET: $12 million. 72436

Working Together For A Better Future

Wagoner in the Future Wagoner is situated in a very great location. We have access to highways, railroads, and water transport.

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Wagoner Community Hospital knows there is more to a hospital than bricks and mortar, technology and the latest procedures. It’s the smiling volunteer that greets you at the entrance. It’s the nurse or technician who takes extra time to comfort your child and family. Yes, we have the latest diagnostic and therapeutic technology. But we also understand that a kind, caring attitude can play a major role in healing.

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We have industries that are growing and stable. Our city and the organizations all work together to promote and add improvements to the community. A great asset to our city is the fact that we do work together as a unit. Wagoner has an optimistic outlook for the future and with this outlook, we are anticipating a successful future.


Muskogee Phoenix

Outlook 2012

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Page 19

Bacone eyes university status By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Bacone College has expanded far beyond the Indian Territory hilltop where Almon C. Bacone and two other men knelt and prayed 132 years ago. From its origins — three students meeting in a Tahlequah mission house in 1880 — Bacone has grown. Enrollment now hovers around 1,000 students, and the campus literally is busting out of its original 160-acre site just northeast of York Street and Shawnee Bypass. Within the past 10 years, Bacone has converted a motel on the northwest corner of York and Shawnee into campus housing. Within the past year, Bacone has converted former stores in Northpointe Plaza into a library and “Bacone Commons.” “Bacone has really made a turnaround over the past decade,” Executive Vice President Dr. Robert Brown said. “We’ve moved from a two-year to a fouryear institution.” Still, Brown said, over the years “we made sure we stayed true to our mission.” Since its inception, Bacone’s mission has been: • To help meet the higher education needs of

Bacone College WHERE: 2299 Old Bacone Road. PHONE: (918) 683-4581. WEBSITE: PRESIDENT: Dr. Robert Duncan. KEY PERSONNEL: Dr. Robert Brown, vice president; Eugene G. Blankenship, assistant vice president for institutional advancement. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 120. ENROLLMENT: 1,100 students. ANNUAL BUDGET: $22 million.

American Indians in a highly diverse environment. • To provide a learning environment stressing Christian core values. “If you look at our demographics, we are more diverse than 94 percent of other colleges,” Brown said. “That is not by accident, but by design.” Brown said Native Americans now make up about a third of Bacone’s enrollment. The college’s goal is to be at least 51 percent Native American enrollment. “Already, one-third of our faculty is American Indian, and we continue to reach out to tribal colleges,” Brown said, listing institutions with the Muscogee Creek Nation, Pawnees and Comanches as an example. Bacone’s latest goal is to go beyond “college” status. Brown said Bacone leaders began thinking about becoming a university two or three years ago, and the

culmination of that dream is still “three to five years away.” The U.S. Department of Education requires colleges to demonstrate financial viability before they become universities, Brown said. The requirements include 40 percent of the budget in ready cash or reserve and a 4 percent profit margin. Education officials also want to follow Bacone’s potential for growth. If Bacone does qualify as a university, it could be called Bacone University, or go to its historic roots and be called by its original name, Bacone Indian University, Brown said. “And we have space to grow with our purchase of Northpointe Plaza,” Brown said. Bacone announced in May that it bought the shopping center, which is just a quick walk to the campus. Since then, Bacone lost no time in converting a vacant 34,000-square-foot store into a library and a

vacant 96,000-square-foot Walmart into a multipurpose commons area. “The library is now open for students, but we plan to have a grand opening for the community in May during our commencement,” Brown said. He said the library would open to the public at that time, and Muskogee residents can get a library card. Work continues on the student center in the Walmart. A student housing office already opened, as did offices for the Student Government Association. There also is a workout area featuring weight machines and cardio machines. Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding “We still have a bookstore to put in, and we alBacone College’s new commons, a student center ready have the beginnings built in a former Walmart, is yards away from a Bacone of a snack bar,” Brown said, dormitory. The commons features a workout area, stuadding that he expects dent life office, snack bar. everything in the student center to be finished in August. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

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Outlook 2012 New NSU president first months fast-paced Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Northeastern State University

TAHLEQUAH — The past four months have been nonstop for Northeastern State University’s 19th president Dr. Steve Turner. Turner was named NSU president in October after serving 22 years at East Central University in Ada. His latest job there was vice Turner president for administration and finance. He also was assistant to president for governmental relations and economic development. Turner described his first few months at NSU as “really fast-paced.” “I’ve tried to meet with all the different NSU groups, all the different constituencies at the campus,” he said. “And I’ve been at the State Capitol a lot.” Turner has reason to be busy. Not only is he the new man on NSU’s three campuses, he comes at a time of growth and activity. NSU is preparing for a March accreditation visit by the Higher Learning Commission. The commission, or HLC, is one of two commission members if the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Turner arrives at what he said is the culmination of three years of self-study. “I’m optimistic that we’ll come away with continued accreditation,” Turner said. “We had 400 people involved with the self-study.” Turner said he expects the accreditation team to see “a dynamic facility, an energetic student body and a committed executive team working together to make NSU a school of choice.” He said there has been significant updating of the

PHONE: (800) 722-9614. WHERE: • 600 N. Grand Ave. Tahlequah, (918) 456-5511. • 2400 W. Shawnee Bypass, Muskogeee, (918) 6830040. • 3100 E. New Orleans St., Broken Arrow, (918) 4496019. WEBSITE: PRESIDENT: Dr. Steve Turner. KEY PERSONNEL: Executive Officers Laura Boren, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs. Jerry Cook, interim executive director for University Relations. Tim Foutch, vice president for Operations. David Koehn, vice president for Finance & Administration. Martin Tadlock, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 900 full-time. ENROLLMENT: 10,153 (spring 2012). ANNUAL BUDGET: $83.1 million for FY 2011-2012.

Phoenix Staff Writer

facility since 2006. Major improvements include a new science facility and “one-stop” center where students can enroll, pay a fee, take care of financial aid or get transcripts. Earlier this year, the NSU campus renovated its Performing Arts Center. The University Center basement got a new look as the old Cue Bowl was replaced with a student lounge (with pool tables). The remodeled basement features a latenight coffee bar and shop. A new reading clinic, the Cappitola “Cappi” Wadley Center for Reading and Technology, soon will cap Bagley Hall on the Tahlequah campus. The center will provide a clinic where people can overcome read-

ing difficulties. It will house 21 rooms or cubicles for individual or family learning. The center also will feature a computer lab, classrooms and a workroom. Construction could be completed by the fall semester. The center is funded by a $1 million private donation, NSU’s first. Gregg Wadley, a 1969 Northeastern graduate, and his wife, Dr. Betsy Brackett, pledged the milestone gift in December 2010 in honor of Wadley’s mother, Cappi Wadley. Cappi was a librarian at NSU and a public school teacher. A maintenance endowment will allow for care for the room, furniture and equipment. Buildings in the future could include a new dormitory and multipurpose building. The biggest change at NSU’s Muskogee campus, 2400 W. Shawnee Bypass, comes in bright orange hues. Connors State College moved one of its Muskogee campuses from downtown to the NSU campus in September. NSU and Connors built a 10,000 square-foot facility for offices, a library and bookstore. Connors students arrived in January to start the spring semester. “Connors is living with us,” said NSU Muskogee Campus Dean Dr. Timothy McElroy. The new bookstore and library will be open for NSU students as well as CSC students, McElroy said. Former library space at NSU Muskogee will become offices or other facilities. McElroy and Turner say they see NSU’s Muskogee campus meeting the area’s growing health care needs. The school offers a new Master of Science in Nursing Education degree program. “And we have a new Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program starting in 2013,” McElroy said. Muskogee s

Group Therapy G h Available l As Wellll


By Cathy Spaulding


Page 21

g g for your official Muskogee Shopping Guide

M USKOGEE M USEUM E VENTS S UMMER A CTIVITY G UIDE 2012 Thomas Foreman Three Rivers Museum Historic Home Open Wednesday-Saturday

1419 West Okmulgee 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Muskogee, OK $3 Adults; $1.50 Students Hours: Fri & Sat 220 Elgin • Muskogee, OK 74401 • • 10am - 5pm 918.696.6624

Five Civilized Tribes Museum Museum Hours: Monday- Friday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Saturday, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm; Closed Sundays

Calendar of Events For Information call 918-683-1701 or toll free at 877-587-4237 March 4-March 31, 2012 . . . . . . . . . . Student Art Show April 1-30, 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Art Under the Oaks Show April 21 & 22, 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Art Under the Oaks Market July 3-30, 201 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Competitive Art Show Sept. 21-22, 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Five Tribes Story Conference November 3-30, 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Masters Art Show

USS Batfish

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Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Outlook 2012 Page 23

Visitors increase at area museums By Wendy Burton Phoenix Staff Writer

Muskogee museums Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday through Wednesday and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Information: (918) 682-6294 or

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Adult $3 Seniors & Students $2 Children under 3 are free. Information: (918) 687-0800 Ataloa Lodge Museum 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or www.oklahomamusichallofWednesday through day and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Five Civilized Tribes Closed for lunch noon to 1 p.m. Museum Free. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday Information: (918) 683-4581 through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday. Three Rivers Museum Adults $3 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. WednesSeniors 65 and over $2 day through Saturday. Students $1.50 Adults $3 Children under 6 are free. Students $1.50 Information: (918) 683-1701 Children under six admitted or free. Group rates available. Information: (918) 686-6624 USS Batfish War or

Memorial Park and Military Museum

Winter hours: Through March 14. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Summer hours: March 15 through Oct. 15.

fundraisers to look forward to, she said. Muskogee’s Three Rivers Museum had a very good 2011 and is beginning some new activities for history buffs this year, said Sue Tolbert, mu-

Thomas-Foreman Historic Home 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Donations are welcome. Information: (918) 6866624.

seum director. “Our Coffeehouse Nights, three of them, were all big successes,” she said. “We usually have a theme for each night, music and some kind of finger food or dessert. The

next will be June 23. It will be outside on the back dock late in the evening, and the theme is “Disney on the Dock.” Each Coffeehouse Night has a theme and serves food, such as Stage, Screen and Soup night and Vintage Wildflowers, a group from Tulsa who played Celtic music and dessert was served. “We have a treasure hunters workshop on Feb. 25, and we’re starting our new History Explorers on Feb. 28,” Tolbert said. Additionally, the museum reopened the ThomasForeman home museum in April. It was the home of Judge John Thomas and his daughter and sonin-law Grant and Carolyn Foreman. “It was built in 1898, and they all lived there until they died,” Tolbert said. “Grant and Carolyn Foreman were local historians, prominent Muskogee citizens and authors.” The USS Batfish War Memorial Park and Military Museum is a popular attraction in Muskogee as well. The Batfish received a $100,000 grant in 2011 from the City of Muskogee Foundation for project stabilization and facility improvements. There was some discussion by the planning commission in the spring about moving the Batfish

to the “museum district” near downtown, but that never came to fruition. During branding discussion, planning commission meetings, and city council meetings discussing Muskogee’s best assets for visitors — the Batfish was always one of the most admired. Coming up in 2012 for the Batfish is Batfish Boot Camp on April 14, the USS Batfish Reunion from May 8-12, Concert at the Batfish on June 2, and much more. Bacone College’s Ataloa Lodge Museum Director John Timothy said the museum sees more visitors every year. The Ataloa Lodge Museum not only displays artifacts related to Bacone College, a 122-year-old college located just off Shawnee Bypass, but pieces of art from famous Native American artists as well. The Ataloa Lodge Museum features art and exhibits from Native American culture across the United States. From the fireplace built from donated stone and fossils from tribes across the United States to the art of famous Native American artist Richard “Dick” West, the museum has a varied collection to explore. Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@ 80489

Muskogee has a plenitude of entertaining and educational activities between six museums that cover a variety of history from World War II to Native American and popular music and culture. And each of those museums report they’ve seen an increase in visitors and programs in 2011 — and 2012 promises to be even better. For the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, located at 1101 Honor Heights Drive, 2011 was a very exciting year, said Executive Director Mary Robinson. The art show season, from March through December, saw a recordbreaking number of artists and entries. Additionally, the museum featured the art of Master Artist Virginia Stroud and Master of Heritage Artist Jerome Tiger, she said. Three major exhibits were seen, and the museum held an arts festival and the Five Tribes Story Conference. The conference, which featured storytellers, artists, poets and more, was a great success. Tim Tingle was a big hit and will be at the 2012 conference, Robinson said. “If you have never heard Tim Tingle tell a story, you are missing a great experience,” she said. “He will have you laughing and crying and wanting to hear more.” The museum also had a major overhaul after a grant from the City of Muskogee Foundation. Wood floors were refurbished, LED lighting was added to display cases, and bathrooms were remodeled. The lighting improvement will protect and preserve the delicate artwork and valuable artifacts for future genera-

tions, she said. Programs for 2012 include: Student Art Show in March, Art Under the Oaks in April, a competitive show in July, Five Tribes Story Conference in September and Master Artists show in November and December. At the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, located at 401 S. Third St., 2011 was also a very good year and 2012 promises to be even better, said Director Penny Kampf. “We had an increase in visitors last year — and from all over the world,” Kampf said. “Some from South Africa, New Zealand, India and a lot from Canada, so we’re known all over the world.” New in 2011 is Jeremiah’s Music Room children’s exhibit, the Music Begins with a Song series, the Tulsa Opera and Jazz Night, Kampf said. The largest class of inductees, eight, were inducted in 2011 as well. This year the museum will grow even more, and Kampf is excited about upcoming events. “We want to continue to create awareness across the state about the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame,” Kampf said. “We have a five-series event that’s going to take place in March at the Tulsa Historical Society, and then we’re taking the Music Begins with a Song series on the road every other month playing throughout the state of Oklahoma. The next one will be March 8 in Tulsa, and Red Bull is sponsoring the series, so we’re excited about that.” Also new in 2012 is that Jimmy’s Egg has agreed to be a part of OMHOF, Kampf said. The first Saturday of every month, 10 percent of their sales will be donated to OMHOF, and there are other

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Outlook II  

The Phoenix publishes the second of two special reports on growth in Muskogee and the area.In this 24-page edition, you will find stories on...

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