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Tulsa-area halfway house faces negligence suit TULSA (AP) — A group different experiences, but “Despite communicating of female inmates has filed sexual battery is the most these complaints to Avala negligence lawsuit common theme,” Bryan on, nothing was being against the private compa- said. done,” Bryan said. ny operating a halfway “Those allegations genAvalon President Brian house in suburban Tulsa, erally involve unwanted Costello said he couldn’t alleging they were routine- and repeated touching and comment on specific allely subjected to sexual bat- groping of the buttocks gations because he hadn’t tery and harassment while and breasts, pulling down yet seen the lawsuit. participating in a work- clothing to expose body “I don’t know specifics of release program. parts and unwanted kiss- the individual claims, so The lawsuit was filed ing.” it’s very difficult to know against Oklahoma what we’re talking City-based Avalon about,” Costello said. Correctional Ser“We have been made vices, which operates The lawsuit says staff at Avalon aware of one the Turley Resideninstance with one tial Center for female Correctional Services retaliated employer that was inmates. At least 20 against the women after the investigated. That is women have made the only instance allegations, and alleged abuse was reported. that we have ever more victims may been made aware come forward, attorof.” ney J. Spencer Bryan But if there is any told the Tulsa World. Several of the women indication of a problem Bryan said the abuses said the employer would with an employer, the involved a work-release “gloat that nobody would inmates are immediately employer in the food serv- believe them because removed and placed in jobs ices industry. The work- they’re inmates,” Bryan elsewhere, Costello said. release program offers job said. “We take those allegatraining and classes to preThe lawsuit says the tions seriously. We’re pretpare inmates to re-enter Avalon staff retaliated ty happy with the program the workforce as they com- against the women and and our relationship” with plete jail or prison sen- accused them of lying after the Oklahoma Department tences. the alleged abuse was of Corrections, Costello “Different women had reported. said.
Staff photo by KEVIN HARVISON
The Grand Event Center is pictured Tuesday. The center will be the venue for a Spaghetti Western Theatre fundraiser event to benefit McAlester’s historic Old Town.
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He said the winner of the talent show will be chosen by the audience and will receive a paid spot worth $250 to perform at the Oct. 5 Wild West Festival in Old Town McAlester. Carter said the money raised will go to improve
McAlester. “Proceeds will benefit the development of McAlester’s Historic Old Town District,” he said. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased at the Whistle Stop Bistro, 2700 N. Main St., or at the door the
night of the show. For more information, call Gray or Carter at 918423-8620. Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews. com.
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Modzelewski said the landfill has a “theoretical life” and an “actual life.” According to the “theoretical life,” the landfill could operate for another 40 years at the current rate, he said. However, the numbers Modzelewski presented for the “actual rate” are much smaller. “We’ve got about three years left at the actual rate,” he said. One reason the numbers presented by Modzelewski were so different is because the city has a permit to use 48 acres at the landfill, but so far has used only 27 of those acres. The projected 40 years in the theoretical life is how long the landfill is projected to last before it would have to be closed, if the city decided to use all of the acreage that had been permitted for use at the landfill. However, because that would represent a huge expense, little interest has been shown at City Hall for pursuing that path. Instead, Modzelewski suggested looking at shutting the entire landfill down, with the spring of 2014 considered as a target date to start seriously con-
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sidering that option. However, while expanding cell usage at the city landfill is expensive, the expense of closing an landfill is also huge. Currently, the landfill is open only four hours monthly, on the second Saturday of each month, from 8 a.m. until noon. Use of the landfill is restricted to McAlester residents only, city officials said during the meeting. That’s a change from past years, when the landfill was available to anyone who wanted to use it. Modzelewski said he’s heard stories about commercial construction operations traveling to McAlester from as far away as Durant to use the city’s landfill. While the current policy of only opening for four hours once a month provides McAlester residents an opportunity to use the landfill, another reason for having the landfill open for only four hours as month is to keep it from filling up too quickly. Also, keeping the landfill open — even if only for four hours a month — spares the city the expense of having to close it, at
least for now. Modzelewski said it costs the city $1,600 a day to operate the landfill. Another reason the city is looking at closing the landfill within the next three years has to do with new requirements from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Referring to the mounds of garbage which must be covered with surface materials at the landfill, Modzelewski said the required slope used to be at a three-to-one slope. Now, the requirement is a more level four-to-one, he said. Unfortunately, from Modzelewski’s viewpoint, some slopes at the landfill that have already been covered with soil and have grass growing on them. Those covers may have to be reworked because they are not at the required four-to-one slope. “We may not have three years left,” Modzelewski said, referring to one possible result of the new regulations. However, closing the landfill within that time period could also prove costly, since the DEQ has a
number of mandates that must be met — including reclamation of the land — before a landfill in Oklahoma can be officially closed. The city of McAlester is part of landfill financial assurance group, along with several other cites, including Ponca City and Durant. When a city joins the group, the procedure called for the city to put a certain amount of dollars into an account, to help assure the money will be there when a city officially closes a landfill. “We’ve got $1.7 million set aside in an escrow account,” Modzelewski said. However, city officials were told it may not be easy to access the $1.7 million. For one thing, the original plan had been for the city to access the needed funds when the life of the landfill had expired, which is still officially projected to happen in 40 years, based on the premise that the city would continue developing all of the land available at the landfill. It’s projected it would cost the city $2.8 million to
close the landfill in 40 years Asked how much it would cost to close the landfill sooner, Modzelewski said, “I would guess less than the $2,8 million, if we were to close it next year.” Modzelewski was asked if the DEQ has required the city to redo the slopes already covered at a 3-to-1 ratio at the new ratio of four-to-one. “I think it’s better for us to do it voluntarily, rather than have the DEQ come in,” he said. Also during the meeting, Modzelewski discussed the possibility of opening the landfill more often in connection with a possible expanded mulching operation. Discussed were options of the city purchasing a chipper, or using one borrowed from a utility company. “I can see us having a very good composting program,” Modzelewski said. City Manager Pete Stasiak said one possibility is to apply for a grant for a mobile chipper, that could be used all over Pittsburg County in the wake of a disaster that results in the
need to remove debris from around the county. Although such a chipper would not be owned exclusively by the city, it could be stationed at the municipal landfill, he said. After hearing the presentation, the consensus among committee members was to have Modzelewski obtain more information and present it to the Audit and Finance Committee during the group’s December meeting. In addition to Modzelewski, Stasiak and Foster, also attending the meeting were Stasiak’s Chief Executive Assistant Linda Daniels and City Chief Financial Officer Toni Ervin, along with Audit and Finance Committee members Walter Bethune and Gullick, as well as Ward 1 City Councilor Weldon Smith and Ward City Councilor and Vice Mayor Sam Mason. The committee meets once each quarter at City Hall. The meetings are open to the public. Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews. com.