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e c n a n i F , l a g e L t n e m n r e v o G & re.... e h s t r a t S The Future Progress 2011

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Ada Evening News

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Legal, Finance & Government

www.adaeveningnews.com

Ada's new engineer takes on water

By Randy Mitchell City Editor

ADA — Gary Kinder is enjoying living in Ada. Kinder is a recent hire for the city of Ada and its newest engineer. Although he works on many projects at any given time, his current project involves water. One major project is wastewater treatment plant improvements. Phase one was just completed. “We’ve got phase two of the wastewater treatment plant improvements which is advertising this month,” Kinder said. “We’ll get construction going in another month as a continuation of phase one.” The entire project was created to make the plant more efficient and save money. Another major project is a water tower to be placed on the southside of Ada. “We’re about 75 percent completed with the design phase,” Kinder said. He was hired in September 2010, moving to Ada from Yukon. At the time, he was working for a consulting engineering firm in Oklahoma City when he was informed of the Ada position by another Ada city engineer, Cody Holcomb. “Cody and I worked together at the same firm,” Kinder said. Kinder was born in Iowa, but moved to Oklahoma as a young child.

“I was born in Iowa but I’ve lived here for the past 42 years, so I guess I’d be an Okie at this point,” he said laughingly. As a child, Kinder wanted to be an aeronautical engineer when he grew up. “I’ve always had that engineering desire and always wanted to know how things worked and design things,” he said. “I always liked airplanes when I was younger.” He eventually moved towards environmental engineering. “I also thought at one time about being a game ranger too,” Kinder said. “Environmental engineering seemed to be a kind of compromise between the two. There was a lot of demand for environmental engineers and still is, so it seemed like a good career choice.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Oklahoma University and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Oklahoma State University. Kinder says he cheers for both schools but when they play each other, he leans toward OU. Kinder married wife Sohee in a traditional Korean wedding in South Korea. They make several trips to Korea to visit her family. An avid outdoorsman, Kinder said the hiking is great in South Korea as well. “The mountains up

Photo by Richard R. Barron

Ada City Engineer Gary Kinder enters the City of Ada Advanced Wastewater Pollution Control Facility.

there are very pretty and it’s a pretty country,” he said. The couple adopted Sohee’s niece, Min Kang, five years ago. She is a chemical engineering student at OSU. In addition to hiking, Kinder enjoys other outdoor pursuits including fishing, camping, backpacking, mountain biking and kayaking. He said he enjoys living here. “The trout fishing is really good on the Blue River and the hunting is good down here,” Kinder said. “I got three deer (in 2010). I like the country living.” Photo by Richard R. Barron

Ada City Engineer Gary Kinder points to a panel inside the Advanced Wastewater Pollution Control Facility.

Photos by Richard R. Barron

Above, Ada City Engineer Gary Kinder looks over plans. At right, he overlooks the wastewater treatment facility.

Gary Kinder As a kid, Ada's newest city engineer knew he wanted to be in engineering when he grew up ... Although he also considered becoming a game ranger due to his love of the outdoors.

On the cover... Ryan Eaker takes a ride in a "police cruiser." Although he hasn't expressed what he wants to be when he grows up, "The Future Starts Here." (Photo by Richard R. Barron)

Arvest is Celebrating

50 Years 1961-2011


www.adaeveningnews.com

Legal, Finance & Government

Sunday, March 27, 2011 3A

A journey to U.S. citizenship Veneshia Ferdinand shares her experience

By Justin Lofton Staff Writer ADA — Veneshia Ferdinand, compliance officer at Citizens Bank, said while she wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, she knew her eventual profession would likely be business-related. “I knew it would be something along the lines of accounting, business and finance,” she said. Ferdinand was born and raised in India. She got her high school education and college degree there before coming to the United States with a green card in 1999. “I came to the United States in 1999 on an exchange program,” she said. Initially, Ferdinand worked as an intern for a large non-profit organization in New York. She said the hardest part of gaining citizenship to the U.S. was not being able to visit family for the first four to five years while she had her green card. “When you become a green card holder, they give you an option,” she said. “After the first five years, you have an option to apply for citizenship and that’s when I applied.” She said the immigration process was more time consuming than difficult. “Once I had the option to become a U.S. citizen it was not that hard. It took about six months from the time I applied,” she said. She said she had to adjust to several cultural differences in the U.S. Food was the biggest cultural hurdle but after finding the right places to

shop, she eventually felt more at home. “You can pretty much get everything here that you would get over there,” she said. In New York, Ferdinand eventually met Robert, who would become her husband. Robert—also from India—was a math professor at East Central University when they met in New York, so Ferdinand moved to Ada when they were married. Since being married, she said she’s visited her family in India once and has also gone to visit her brother’s family in the United Kingdom. She said a down-side of U.S. citizenship is that visiting family isn’t always an option. After moving to Ada, she applied for a job at Citizens Bank. “The bank has been like a family,” Ferdinand said. “I’ve been here almost Veneshia Ferdinand, a compliance officer at Citizens Bank, became a U.S. citizen recently. nine years, now.” Her extended family at the bank has been with munity. you have two little ones “You can’t be alone in with a full-time job,” Ferdinand and her husband through the births of this town whether you Ferdinand said. She said she’s enjoyed two children: 18-month- like it or not,” Ferdinand her time in the U.S. and Born in India, old Keira and two-year- said. She said she enjoys Ada. old Keane. Both are natu- Ada because it’s quiet, “We really appreciate Veneshia Ferdinand ral-born U.S. citizens. nice and her daily comthe extended family we She said First United mute is much shorter than knew she would be have here at work and Methodist Church and it was in New York. “When I lived and church,” she said. “It Ada Rotary Club have in a business-relatalso become part of her worked in New York, it really fills the void.” extended family away took me two hours either Ferdinand said many way to home and get to opportunities are availfrom India. ed field. Her jour“(First United Methodist work,” she said. “When able to U.S. immigrants Church members) really I was single, it was fine. with the right kind of ney brought her to made us feel at home I could get caught up on work ethic. here,” she said. “When my reading.” the United States “There are a lot of She said she can’t imag- opportunities if you work we’ve needed someone, where she gained they’ve always been ine commuting in New hard, you’re willing to York with her two chil- take that extra step and here.” you’re willing to go above her citizenship. She said Rotary has dren. “It’s a lot of work when and beyond,” she said. offered her and her family an opportunity to meet friends and get to know more people in the com-

Photo by Justin Lofton

Veneshia Ferdinand

Legislators Your Oklahoma

Rep. Todd Thomsen District 25

OKLAHOMA

Profession: Southeast Oklahoma Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Education: University of Oklahoma, Bachelors in Management Information Systems Legislative Experience: House of Representatives, 2006 - Present Home Residence: For last 21 years, Ada, OK Party: Republican Personal: Married to Melanie for 21 years. They have 5 children: Tal, Menee, Aneli, Tovan & Tyde. The Thomsens have lived in Ada for 21 years and have been active members of First Baptist Church. Contact: 405-557-7336, todd.thomsen@okhouse.gov. Committees: He is Chair of Higher Education and Career Technology, a member of Public Safety, Transportation; and the Subcommittee on Education. Honored to Serve District 25

Senator Susan Paddack District 13

Occupation: State Senator; Nonprofit Consultant Education: University of Colorado, B.S. Education; East Central University, M.E. Secondary Education Legislative Experience: Senate Member, 2004 - present Hometown: Ada, OK Party: Democrat Personal: Married to Gary for 35 years, two children, Geoffrey, 29, and Elizabeth, 26. She is an elder and a former youth group leader at the First Presbyterian Church. Honors: Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council Legislative Advocate of the Year Legislator of the Year from the Oklahoma State Troopers Association Outstanding Member of a State Legislature, Dr. Nathan Davis Award from the American Medical Association Committees: Education, Energy, Transportation, Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Contact: (405) 521-5541 Email: paddack@oksenate.gov

Senator Paddack meeting with Ada Retired Educators


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

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Legal, Finance & Government

www.adaeveningnews.com

In a Word... Professionalism In the old days it wasn’t unusual for a community to have a lawman whose only credentials for keeping peace were the badge on his chest and the gun on his hip. Training was nonexistent. Even as late as the 1950s and the 60s those charged with upholding the law received only 48 hours training or less. Thankfully, those days are gone. Today the keyword is professionalism and we at the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) hold it as our sacred responsibility to ensure every officer who walks onto our campus leaves with the tools he or she needs to fulfill critical roles in their respective communities. Recruits’ training consists of more than sitting in a classroom to soak up knowledge dispensed by veteran law professionals, though that is part of the educational process. Recruits also role play dangerous situations, learn driving techniques on our 356 acres, practice shooting on two firing ranges and much more. All this training is designed to ensure Oklahoma communities are equipped with the most professional law enforcement officers anywhere in the United States.

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Legal, Finance & Government

Sunday, March 27, 2011 1B

Interpreter helps Hispanics at bank By Justin Lofton Staff Writer

ADA—Elizabeth Hernandez grew up in Mexico and said she always wanted to be a good example to her four siblings “I wanted to make sure they looked at me as someone to inspire them,” she said. Her family moved to Texas for two years when she was young before moving back to Mexico. “I went to school (in Mexico) up to sixth grade,” Hernandez said. Her family moved back to the United States when she was 12. “When we first got here, it was kind of hard,” she said. “When I first got here, I didn’t speak any English at all so they put me back in the fifth grade.” “For the first couple of years, I really struggled. I was always a good student. I maintained good grades,” she said. Despite being an “A” student in Mexico, Hernandez said she was failing English, reading and spelling. “I would come home crying and tell my mom, ‘I want to go back,’” Hernandez said. “After one or two years, things started falling into place,” she said. “I had more friends. The language barrier just went away. I started picking up on the culture.” She doubled up on English and history classes during her sophomore year

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P R O G R E S S

ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ

of high school to get caught up and graduated from Coalgate High School a year early in 2000. “Being exposed to that has been one of the things that has allowed me to accept change easier than other people,” she said. Hernandez went on to major in finance at East Central University, where she received a scholarship thanks to her school counselor, Amy Mauk. Her family bought a house in Ada her junior year of college and Hernandez has lived here ever since. She graduated in 2005 and became a United States citizen in 2007. “When I first graduated, I always

thought that in order to have a really good job you had to move to a bigger city,” she said. Instead, Hernandez was happy to find a good job in Ada. “When I first started working at Vision Bank it was kind of by accident. I just noticed an ad in the newspaper,” she said. “They had a help-wanted ad for a loan assistant.” She applied for the job and began on Oct. 10, 2007. After two months as a loan assistant, Hernandez said there was an opening for an officer training program. “I told my supervisor, ‘I know that I’ve only been here two months and I feel like I haven’t really proven myself to you, but do you think it would be good for me to apply?’” she said. Her supervisor encouraged her to take the opportunity. “I went through the interview process. There were four other employees who had applied for it.” Following an interview with the bank’s management, Hernandez was selected as the candidate for the officer position. She said her experiences have helped her as an interpreter for Spanish speaking customers. “You have to really understand what they need,” she said. “It feels great to be able to just step in, find out what they need and get it fixed.”

In addition to helping Spanish speaking customers open accounts, Hernandez is also a loan officer and supervisor of customer service. “I do anything else that’s needed,” she said. “I try to fill in every time we have a need for someone to step up to the plate.” Her parents and two brothers currently live in Ada. She has a sister in Norman and a sister in Tennessee. She’s married to Rodrigo Hernandez and they have a four-year-old son named Yazid. Herndandez said she enjoys her job at Vision Bank very much. “I’ve been kind of fortunate that I’ve found a job in banking,” she said. “I love what I do and it’s allowed me to use every skill that I have.”

Elizabeth Hernandez As a kid, Elizabeth Hernandez just wanted to be a good example for her siblings.

PONTOTOC COUNTY MARKETING & TOURISM FROM A WALK IN THE PARK TO A SPLENDID NIGHT ON THE TOWN AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN C Y

April Calendar April 1st -2nd Tuley Team Roping April 1 – www.cougsforacause.com Cougs for a cause – Benefit Basketball Game April 2 – www.cougsforacause.com Cougs for a cause – Benefit Baseball Game April 4th – Ken Lance Arena 3Crosses Youth Camp Monday Night “Bull Buck Out” April 5th – Lazer Zone - every Tuesday nights it is College 2 for 1 night April 7th – Lazer Zone - every Thursday night, family night April 7th - Donkey Basketball 7:00 @ Kerr Center April 8th – 10:00am – 12:30pm -Tour of the Stars April 8th-9th Oklahoma Mule Sale, Pontotoc County Agri-Plex April 8th-9th The Chickasaw Nation Presents World Championship Bullfights and Concert April 9th-10th Monkey Business Consignment Sale Pontotoc County Agri-Plex April 9th McSwain Theatre presents Mark Shultz with Jason Gray and David Klinkenburg April 14th @ 7:00pm Pam Weston, Christian Country Artist, a free concert with CrossCut Cowboy Church at the Pontotoc County Agriplex Convention Center. April 15th-16th Southern Oklahoma, Cutting Horse association April 15th-16th OK Boer Goat Show April 16th Rockin S Team Roping April 16th-17th Gun Show April 16th McSwain Theatre Showcase Presenting Jae L & Crossover April 16th-17th Oklahoma Boer Goat Show April 18th Impressive Dress, Fabrics & Fashions, Consumer Buying Contest April 23rd Rockin S Team Roping April 22nd-24th Miniature Horse Show April 23rd Rockin S Team Roping County Agri-Plex April 28th – 30th AII Performances – Sweeney Todd April 29nd-30th The 2011 Pontotoc County Quilt Show Flying High with Color April 30th Rockin S Team Roping April 30th Ada Opry Country Music Show April 30th Rockin S Team Roping

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION GO TO: VISITPONTOTOC.COM

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1710 N. Broadway Ada, OK 74820 580-332-9267

Bgilstrap@visitpontotoc.com

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Legal, Finance & Government

www.adaeveningnews.com

County roads one of top priorities

By Justin Lofton Staff Writer

ADA — Pontotoc County commissioners say they are busy working on roads in their district. DISTRICT ONE Gary Starns, district one’s commissioner of 12 years, said his childhood dreams have been realized. “When I was growing up, I wanted to be an equipment operator,” he said. Starns said he also had aspirations of becoming a county commissioner. GARY STARNS Starns has worked for the county approximately 20 years. He so much here.” said he worked four years under He said he has several upcoming Commissioner Chester Timmons, road projects. four years under Commissioner “On the five-year plan, I’ve got Alvin Ogee and five years under a project that will run from where Commissioner Mark Manuel. Country Club ends to old Highway “When Mark was about to resign, 99,” he said. He said the project he came and talked to me about run- would be done in two phases. ning,” Starns said. His filing fee was He said Cotton Creek Bridge near paid by Marvin Stokes and Starns Francis would be rebuilt on the fivewon the election. year plan, also. “I’ve never regretted it a bit,” he District one and the Chickasaw said. “I enjoy working with the Nation will also be working together people and trying to help our area to raise and widen the intersection out.” by High Hill Starns said Church. Pontotoc County Starns said has received he hopes to use help from sevgrant money to eral of its repwork on the overenjoy working with resentatives pass by Thomas and residents Ranch road. the people and trythroughout the “We’ve had years. He said ing to help our area out.” a lot of wrecks Congressman on the Homer— Gary Starns Francis Road Tom Cole has always been County Commissioner by the railroad quick to lend crossing,” he a hand in getsaid. He said he would be ting the county’s working with FEMA money. the Chickasaw “ S e n a t o r Nation to raise Susan Paddack has always worked with us on differ- the railroad bed on the northside of ent projects,” Starns said. the crossing. He said the Chickasaw Nation also He’s also working on Cullihoma Road with the Chickasaw Nation. works very closely with the county. “It’s about a $3.5 million project,” “The Chickasaw Nation has 13 he said. counties that they work in,” Starns said. “We’ve been fortunate in A project near Lazy Acres is comPontotoc County. We’ve got a lot of ing up. projects with them because they have “We’re looking at milling that up

“I

DANNY DAVIS

JUSTIN ROBERTS

and widening it just a hair.” He’s also working on projects in Byng with the Chickasaw Nation. He said he hopes to oil and chip some roads in residential areas near Valley View Regional Hospital.

process of having utilities relocated right now,” he said. Davis said he’d also be working with Vanoss and Latta schools and helping them with a couple projects. West Day Creek Bridge will be started when funding becomes available. Plans are complete on the Vanoss Bridge. “(Chickasaw Nation) is paying to re-rock County Road 1540 from Pickett to Vanoss,” he said. “We’re in the process of doing that right now.” County Road 3510 is also scheduled to receive repairs.

DISTRICT TWO Danny Davis, who has been district two’s commissioner for two years, said he’s wanted to do construction since he was a child. “All I ever thought about being was a construction worker and developer,” he said. Davis started his career with Pontotoc County, where he worked for 11 years. He then worked for the city of Ada for 13 years. Davis also has several road projects in the works. He said all the districts have applied for a grant to do oiling and chipping on roads and he hopes to use the money to improve roads in Pickett. “The Rodtky Creek Bridge project is still in the hands of the Historical Society,” he said. Davis said his workers are patching roads and hauling gravel to make repairs to damage caused by this year’s snow storms. “We got our FEMA money in from last winter, so we should be able to make some improvements on our oiled and chipped roads this summer,” he said. He said the John Deere Road, Simmons Lane and Reeves Road would be taking priority next spring. “The Garr-Corner cut-off road should be going this fall. It’s in the

DISTRICT THREE Justin Roberts is the newly-elected district three commissioner. He has been self-employed for 10 years doing contract work for the United States Department of Agriculture. Roberts has lived 33 years in Ada. “I was born and raised in district three,” he said. He said he’s known every county commissioner in his district since the mid 1980s. Roberts is jumping into the road projects in his district. He said a project on Kerr Lab Road would kick off next year and he hopes to get easements for utilities on the project soon. “I’ve got two bridges that will be replaced this spring,” he said. Roberts said his district is involved in a $50,000 match grant with Chickasaw Nation to oil and chip several roads.


www.adaeveningnews.com

Sunday, March 27, 2011 3B

Legal, Finance & Government

Photo by Richard R. Barron

Opening remarks

District Judge Tom Landrith speaks at dedication ceremonies for the improvements at Pontotoc County Courthouse prior to its open house March 4, 2011. For pictures of the courthouse after renovations were completed, see page 4B of this section.

‘New courthouse’ is boon for residents By Randy Mitchell City Editor

ADA — The remodeling of Pontotoc County Courthouse is complete and all involved are ecstatic. One of those is District Judge Tom Landrith who made many trips to the courthouse as construction was in progress. “I probably averaged going down there every other day,” Landrith said. He provided plenty of input “whether they wanted it or not,” he said laughing. “They were very easy to work with.” Landrith was glad to be leaving the temporary location at Pontotoc County Agri-plex which was being referred to behind the scenes as “Agri-court” and “The Barn.” He said although it wasn’t ideal, it worked. “We made it work,” Landrith said. “It was functional. It might not have been pretty with that PVC pipe (which separated the areas of each courtroom), but the price was right on the rent (free). Everybody worked as a team and were good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.” Landrith said the courthouse prior to the remodel was a nightmare for everyone involved. “None of it complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” he said. “None of it was to code.” The ‘old courthouse’ leaked water through the exterior walls where grout had fallen away, causing terrible mold problems. One such area was the wall which bordered Landrith’s desk. “I had a living wall for 16 years,” he said. He said the mold could cause allergies and illnesses among employees. He said some old demons have been exorcised as well. The courthouse was tainted due to some unfair rulings referring specifically to the wrongful convictions of Ron Williamson and Dennis

Fritz, two men Landrith set free in 1999. “We needed to escape some of our judicial past,” Landrith said. “That old jail and that old courtroom was always a reminder of things that didn’t go right sometimes. So it’s kind of a fresh start.” Landrith, an OU fan and alum, teased the workers from Piazza Construction Company, based in Texas, every time Texas University lost a football game. In retaliation, the workers hung a Texas plaque over where the Great Seal of Oklahoma was to be placed above his bench. Landrith always has something good to say about those who work around him. He’s quick with a joke but takes judgment and sentences very seriously. He knows there’s no room for humor when people’s lives and freedom are at stake.

Born and raised in Ada, Landrith attended Ada Schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree from OU before joining the U.S. Air Force. After serving fours years in the military, Landrith entered Oklahoma University School of Law on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1976. Landrith wanted to be involved in law as a child. “I liked everything about it,” he said. “It was exciting back then and local lawyers were characters in the community.” Landrith said he enjoys being a judge and serving the community. “Sometimes it’s very rewarding and sometimes it breaks your heart,” he said. “Sometimes it’s very stressful. Probably the worst things I do are custody cases —custody

Tom Landrith District Judge Tom Landrith knew he wanted to be involved in law from the time he was a child.

issues and divorce cases are the worst because no one really wins.” Landrith has two children, Allyson Landrith Carson and Matt Landrith. Allyson is the victim

services coordinator for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and Matt is an attorney in Houston, Texas. Landrith enjoys playing golf and he and wife Gail reside in Ada and enjoy

traveling. Landrith played football at Ada High and was part of two state championship teams. He attends many Ada School functions and supports Ada athletics.

Rising to Meet Member Needs Since our inception in 1966 Ada Federal Employees Credit Union has been serving our members in and around the Ada area with exceptional financial products. Currently led by Earlene McDonald, we at Ada Federal Employees Credit Union have grown our membership to over 945 with assets of more than $7,413,505. We have three full time employees in a single main office. Our membership is open to federal employees, including active or retired military, USPS, EPA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Indian Health Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and SS, and their families. Ada Federal Employees Credit Union offers members a full service website that allows for true “Banking From Home” functionality, giving members the ability to conveniently access information via the Internet. Members may also take advantage of a full array of loans including for new and used cars. We are in our 45th year serving Ada area federal employees and bought our own building a year ago. Call or visit us anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Ada Federal Employees Credit Union 317 S. Broadway Ada OK, 74820

(580) 332-0181

Your saving federally insured to $250,000

NCUA

National Credit Union Administration a U.S. Government Agency


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Legal, Finance & Government

www.adaeveningnews.com Photos by Richard R. Barron

Courthouse renovations complete

Pontotoc County Courthouse recently had a facelift and interior renovations. An open house was held for the courthouse March 4. After more than a year in Pontotoc County Agri-plex, business and court resumed at the newly remodeled courthouse March 21.

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Progress 2011 - Legal  

Legal - Ada (Okla.) Evening News annual progress edition for 2011.

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