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sunday, March 11, 2012 n The Ardmoreite n www.ardmoreite.com

NEWS healdton Continued from page 1A

Complicating matters even more is the $95,000 yearly payment owed on the note that financed the system —the city’s water and sewer system was used as collateral on the note. Should the council decide to discontinue the cable system, note payments will continue. On the upside of the note equation, the financial losses of the cable system would not continue to hamper the situation. In the past seven years, the cable system has lost $1 million with the latest annual losses in the range of $186,000. During the most recent council meeting, Adkins said he would show the council the system could be profitable and promised to call the members of the council the next day. Nearly a week later, some members of the council are still waiting to hear from Adkins. Councilman D.J. Brown said he has never received a phone call and that Councilwoman Renee Miller hadn’t either. “He (Adkins) just didn’t have all the facts on the costs of the cable,” said Councilman Rick Pender. “In figuring out how the cable was going to make a profit, they were not accounting for the loan. He wasn’t given all the information.” Through his initial research, Adkins was under the impression the system would only need to add 82 customers to sustain itself. In reality, the addition would have to be far greater. “It (customer base) would need two to three times as much (customer base) as it has now,” said Brown. “I don’t see how that can happen. Everybody in town knows we, the city, has a cable system and it hasn’t grown yet. At this point, I don’t know how we can keep it.”

One of the issues lies in competition. In cities like Ardmore and Lone Grove, Cable One is the sole cable provider, but in Healdton, the city competes with Suddenlink for customers. Suddenlink was available to cable customers prior to the city’s cable venture. “I hate to say it, but it was a very poor business decision,” Pender said. “They put something in they really hadn’t researched. I will say this, Ken Adkins was hired to do a job and he did that job. But he was not actually providing the information to the public saying the cable was making money because he wasn’t aware of the indebtedness it was in. I don’t hold him responsible. The problems have gradually gotten worse. It’s not management’s fault 100 percent. It was just never going to be profitable when they put it in. “ Despite the uphill battle, City Manager Louis Smitherman is convinced the system can be self sustaining and is preparing for a last ditch effort, even with the setback of Adkins’ figures. “What we are trying to do is get some numbers, but there are some moving goalposts when we look at every avenue and look at programming,” Smitherman said. “When Ken was talking to the council and said he could make the system profitable, his understanding was it was the HMA the debt was with. He didn’t understand it was the cable. We are still looking to see what we can cut and legally cut.” Smitherman said the city could start shaving costs

on line items to conserve money for the cable. The problem is the city is also saving money for matching funds on a Community Block Development Grant in the neighborhood of $300,000. Smitherman also said the city will receive an insurance payment for storm damage which can improve the system. “In my opinion, the debt is what it is and the operation is what it is,” Smitherman said. “We are making roughly $100,000 a month in income which places us roughly $24,000 above the debt. That is how we are looking at it. When they asked me to balance the budget, it called for $288,000 (spending in excess of budget) and we balanced it. I took it from the water and the sewer but when it was all said and done, it was under the HMA, not the Healdton Cable Authority. They can vote it up or down and I am going to present something we feel the council can accept or reject it.” Brown indicated that, as it stands, the system is not sustainable and it is time to shut it down to spare the city further expense. Pender is also ready to pull the plug, saying he could not justify asking more customers to commit to the system. “I just think on Monday (next meeting) it is over,” he said. “I hate to say don’t do it, but I don’t want to give somebody false hope. I am tasked with overseeing money and we want to get the finances back under control and not have to use our sales tax.”

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has nothing to do with taxes. The first difference is Texas has better availability and access to technology and innovation. The second is access to capital. Companies move to states where they know they can access loans and other financial opportunities to help their company grow. “Here we have two areas that affect business, that have nothing to do with income tax,” Simpson said, “and everything to do with access to capital and technology.” Less than half of Rep. Ownbey’s constituents surveyed support the elimination of the state income tax. “I think it’s very responsible,” he said. “I have yet to have a constituent come up to me and say, ‘I’m sure glad you’re getting rid of that income tax.” Rep. Hardin said that he’s getting calls from his constituents telling him, “It (tax cuts) sounds good, but don’t hurt us. What happens if we have another

downturn? Where do we make up for those things?” Public safety was another topic of discussion at the luncheon. “We have roughly 750 highway patrolmen on the highway right now,” Rep. Hardin said. “Of those, 239 are eligible to retire and we’ve got a 30-man academy this year. These are things that are important to us right now. Why cut the income tax right now?” A $5 million supplemental appropriation to Department of Public Safety to pay a trooper academy has been approved by the senate. “I believe public safety is an area that we’re really going to be focused on,” Ownbey said.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012 n The Ardmoreite n www.ardmoreite.com

news wilson Continued from page 1A

Problems the auditor found within the city include a city code book which was scattered around the office, in pieces, with some pages missing, use of plain, unnumbered receipt books, and instances where receipts were missing or had been manipulated. Other receipts were unavailable because they had been deleted from the computer files. All these problems hindered the auditor’s ability to accurately and completely determine the amount of potential misappropriation. What is certain in the report is $35,200 in misappropriations. In written statements provided to the auditor, Morris indicated she had embezzled $7,500 as well. Regarding the city’s culpability, the reports say, “The city had repeatedly failed to comply with state law concerning finance and purchasing.” That is a violation of the law according to state code. Title 11 O.S. § 17-215(D), a section of the municipal budget act states, “No encumbrance or expenditure may be authorized or made by any officer or employee which exceeds the available appropriation for each department within

a fund.” The report said in the fiscal years ending in 2007 through 2010, the city exceeded appropriations within the general fund. The scope of these allegations not only affect billing clerk Morris but also former clerk Elaine Blackburn and Melissa Williams. “If I am reading this correctly, I think the money was there when they made the budget and when they overspent they did not make a budget amendment,” Schaaf said. Schaaf said Blackburn had told him that she approached former Mayor Bud Young about the problem and he never took any action on it. It was also on Young’s watch that bill paying began to be a problem. “We had a 6-foot long table, 30-inches wide mounted with papers,” Schaaf said. “The record keeping was, at best, atrocious. All of that has been squared away and the only thing we really need to do is get our ordinances codified and up to date. “We had vendors that were actually shutting the city off because of nonpayment and that was a top priority, to get them squared away.” Another problem the city had to deal with following the April 2011 election was payment of employee retire-

a2a Continued from page 1A

But a bell is just a bell without the proper presentation. Enter David Logan and Dillon Payne. Logan and his father are both cancer survivors and Dillon’s mother battled cancer for a number of years. The race has personal implications for both, and when they realized they could help, they jumped in. “David can do a lot of things the rest of

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ment benefits. The city was in danger of a lien being placed on it before making a $66,875 payment in August. Morris was the clerk in charge of mailing the payments out and it slipped through the cracks. The report also found the city broke the law in that it did not make daily deposits because of financial misappropriations. In its conclusion, the report found the “city’s poor records and poor recordkeeping and a general lack of effective Board oversight in prior fiscal years contributed to a poor internal control environment that allowed a significant misappropriation of city funds to occur without being detected in a timely manner.” The auditor found although the city responded by agreeing with annual audit findings, they had ignored them and continued to do business as usual in violation of state statutes, developing an environment susceptible to financial misappropriations. Also troubling for the city was its use of Oklahoma Department of Corrections inmates, who were given access to city computers. City employees and Rheba Henderson, the city auditor at the time, reported the violation to the auditor, which led to elimination of the practice. The report notes the in-

us can’t,” Payne said. “He’s got the time to take the trips and work on the materials we need for something like this.” Logan is constructing a stand for the bell to be placed at the finish line, while Payne works on Mercy and A2A metal logos to be attached to the mount. “It’s going to be something special,” Logan said. “It’ll be big and colorful and will let you know it’s for Mercy, it’s for this race.” The duo have worked closely with A2A since the initial race three years ago and say it’s something they feel very

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mate that was given access to the computer was sentenced for various crimes related to fraud and embezzlement. The inmate has since been moved to another facility and commissary records indicated no deposits, cash or otherwise, were made to his account. During an interview in March, Morris said the inmate had assisted her in setting up her computer. The report said that many of the questionable record manipulations occurred several months after the inmate was seen using the city’s computer. Schaaf said when all was said and done; the financial damage to the city was in exact. In addition to the $32,200 in misappropriated funds and alleged $7,500 in embezzled funds, the city paid the state auditor $15,000 for the investigation and $30,000 to Henderson as a consultant to help recreate the records so an audit could be performed. Even with the $80,000 accounted for, the audit report indicates there is no way of knowing how much money was truly misappropriated. The auditor’s report is available in its entirety online at http://www.sai. ok.gov/Search%20Reports/ database/CityofWilson11FINAL.pdf.

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brief

Occupy Wall Street celebrates 6 months since start NEW YORK (AP) — Chanting and cheering down Wall Street on Saturday to mark six months since the birth of the Occupy movement, some protesters applauded the Goldman Sachs employee who days ago gave the firm a public drubbing, echoing the movement’s indictment of a financial system demonstrators say is fueled by reckless greed. “I kind of like to think that the Occupy movement helped him to say, ‘Yeah, I really can’t do this anymore,’” retired librarian Connie Bartusis said of the op-ed piece by Goldman Sachs manager Greg Smith, who claimed the company regularly foisted failing products on clients as it sought to make more money. Carrying a sign with the words “Regulate Regulate Regulate,” Bartusis said the loss of governmental checks on the financial system helped create the climate of unfettered self-interest described by Smith in his piece, although Goldman’s leadership suggested he had not portrayed the bank’s culture accurately.

drugs Continued from page 1A

Information on the four others involved has been turned over to the Office of Juvenile Affairs. Howe said prescription drugs is a growing problem with youth. Anti-drug efforts at the school include Red Ribbon Week and speakers from the Victims’ Impact Panel. “We don’t tolerate drugs if we find them. We call the authorities, and they come out and help us,” Howe said.

proud of. “It’s grown exponentially each year and we’ve had a great turn out since year one,” Payne said. “It’s unique that all of the money, with the exception of operating costs, goes directly to the Cancer Center. You drive by it every day and you can see what you’re donating to.” Logan said even the race has a unique appeal to it. “It’s a point A to point B race, we bus the runners out there, and you get to run through the country,” he said. “There’s a portion of it through a horse ranch

and runners have said, given the right circumstances, the horses will run right with you.” But this year’s added element of the final bell is something both agree is above and beyond what either could have imagined. “It’s a great idea, and even if you’re just running the race as a personal goal, ringing that bell for finishing the race is symbolic in the same way as ringing it if you’re finishing your cancer treatment,” Logan said, “a positive end to a long struggle.”

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local

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Don Barnett Ratliff WASHINGTON — Don Barnett Ratliff was born on Sept. 5, 1933, on a farm west of Washington, Okla., to James Loyd Ratliff and Anna Mae Maddon Ratliff. He left this life on March 14, 2012. Don was raised in Washington, Okla., graduating high school there in 1951. He married Norma Stanford in 1953. They were blessed with two children, Larry and Ladonna. Don worked as a traveling salesman for many years and was always interested in flying since a young man. During World War II the Air Force base practiced their maneuvers over the farm. Don would look up at those planes while

leaning on his hoe and dream of someday flying. He learned to fly in 1962, recently celebrating 50 years of flight. He flew for pleasure for 15 years before going into commercial flight. He ran a commuter airline (JerDon Air) out of Ardmore to Dallas in 1980 after earning his Airline Transport Pilot license and also a flight instructor’s license. After JerDon Air, Don got the opportunity to freelance ferrying planes to England and from that experience decided to start his own business. Eagle Aero International was founded in 1988, having evolved into his current business, American King

Air Services, Inc., that offers long distance ferry services. Very few pilots are qualified to fly across the ocean but Don has done so countless times, from London to Istanbul, Rome, Paris, Germany, Africa, Australia, Hawaii... you name it, he’s probably been there. He is highly regarded by pilots around the world. Don tried to attend the yearly family reunions to stay in touch. He loved his children and grandchildren very much and often stopped by to visit on his trips cross country. Don never lost that farm boy love of the outdoors and always had a garden no

apd

provide advanced training to our officers and officers from the region,” said APD Chief Keith Mann. “We remain committed to continuing to provide advanced law enforcement training to our officers and others from outside our agency wishing to take advantage of this type of training. We feel this reinforces our mission to provide the best possible law enforcement to our citizens.” Mann has focused on making the APD a “training hub” which attracts law enforcement participation from across Oklahoma, as well as other states. While the chief said the aim of the project is to offer training that enhances law enforcement skill, it also benefits the community in another way. “It allows us to be a partner in the growth of our community. Courses

like this one brings people to our city — they stay at local motels, eat at local restaurants and participate in local events while they attend classes. It helps grow the economy,” he said. In January the APD offered a Crisis Intervention seminar in partnership with Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma. Other upcoming courses include advanced homicide and advanced SWAT.

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“The course is designed to give students the knowledge and tools necessary to investigate shooting incidents and reconstruct the incident based on information and evidence provided at the crime scene,” Hamblin said. The APD was aided in offering the advanced training by the Carter County Sheriff ’s Department who provided accommodations at the Harvey Burkhart Firearms Training Center. The Shooting Incident Reconstruction course is the seventh “higher level” training the APD has sponsored in the past 15 months. “This is another example of bringing instructors from outside the area to

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matter where he lived. He enjoyed cooking, western movies and OU sports. Don met the love of his life, Sally Little, in 2006 and moved to Mt. Pleasant, S.C., to start a new chapter in his life. Don felt that he had fulfilled all of his career dreams and had nothing else to prove. He was content with his life and so very happy. The family would like to thank all those individuals involved in the search and rescue mission in San Benito County, California. You are our heros. Don was preceded in death by his parents, Loyd and Anna Mae Ratliff; and his older brother, James. Don is survived by his

special love, Sally Little of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; his son, Larry Ratliff and wife, Betsy and grandson, Walter of Moriarty, N.M.; daughter, Ladonna Aycox and her husband, Everett of Ardmore, Okla.; Don’s grandson, Matthew Aycox and wife, Katrina; and his great-grandsons Ethan and Braiden of Ardmore, Okla. A Memorial service will be at The First Baptist Church in Washington, Okla., on March 31 at 2 p.m. A memorial celebration will also be at his home in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., in the near future.

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SUNday, April 1, 2012 n The Ardmoreite n www.ardmoreite.com

Local crime

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Wilson man faces firstdegree rape charge By Marsha Miller marsha.miller@ardmoreite.com

An 18-year-old Wilson man is facing a first-degree rape charge involving a female victim under the age of 14. Kenny Lee “Kagan” Howard was arrested by Carter County Sheriff ’s Department deputies Kenny Wednesday following an Howard investigation into the allegations. CCSD reports indicate deputies began

Time to Check In

an inquiry after the victim’s parents reported an incident which allegedly occurred March 23 at the victim’s home. Following his arrest, Howard was booked into the Carter County Detention Center. The formal charge was filed by the district attorney’s office Thursday. Howard made an initial appearance in district court before Special District Judge Thomas Baldwin. Bond was set at $5,000. Baldwin also ordered Howard to have no contact with the victim. A spokesperson for the detention center confirmed Howard was released after posting bond. A preliminary conference has been set for 9 a.m. April 24.

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One step closer to Lake Murray State Park lodge Legislation approved by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee would authorize $15 million for the construction of a new lodge in Lake Murray State Park. Senate Bill 1913, by state Sen. Frank Simpson and state Rep. Pat Ownbey, would allow the Department of Tourism to draw on the State Park Fund, which in turn receives money from mineral lease payments, royalties and other payments associated with oil and gas in state parks. Ownbey said the new lodge will be a boost to Ardmore. “Governor Fallin has said Lake Murray is Oklahoma’s Yellowstone,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “There is an average of 13,000 vacationers who visit each year, contributing more than $1 million to our local economy. Unfortunately, the lodge has deteriorated and we need a new one to continue to draw tourists in. I’m thrilled to be a part of this great project that will be of great benefit locally and to the state, but will not cost a single taxpayer dollar.” Oklahoma operates 41 state park properties, but only owns 14 of the parks. Lake Murray State Park, with 12,496 acres, is bigger than all the other state-owned parks combined. A total of $16.6 million in the State Park Fund came from royalty payments at Lake Murray.

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