Waurika’s Track now has a new surface and new graphics thanks to the Bond Money approved by the voters in the School District. Thank You Waurika!
Last Saturday was a day of celebration and fun. Many were wondering if the event was even going to happen due to COVID-19. Thankfully circumstances allowed the annual event to continue although the date had to be later than planned.
Despite the virus and other circumstances there was a great attendance.
Joe and Gayla Keeter on Peach Street are this week’s Lawn of the Week winners. They mow and edge their lawn every other day! Congratulations and thank you for keeping Waurika beautiful. Award was presented by Chamber of Commerce committee members Roy Bartling and Sharon Duncan. If you have a lawn to recommend for the award, please call Roy at 580.313.0161.
I had the opportunity recently to look through the book collection of a friend and fellow bibliophile. I found books on religion and philosophy. There are American classics like Twain and Faulkner. The books that I am looking at are not his entire library, only the ones that he left here in Oklahoma in the care of another friend. It is always interesting to see the path that someone takes by looking at what they have collected over the years. The first book from his collection that I read is one that I read years ago. “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale. It’s a small book that was quickly read, but I enjoyed reacquainting myself with it after so many years. The next book that I borrowed is “Sanctuary” by William Faulkner. I’ll let you know how it goes. I also spotted a Winston Churchill memoir that will come home with me at some point. I might have taken the Churchill this time but I had just finished “The Citizens of London” and that is enough of World War II for now. The Citizens of London tells the story from a point of view that was different than any that I had read. In retrospect it’s easy to say that they should have done this or that but at the time they were dealing with issues that were either new to them or on a scale that they had never seen. Leaders of nations are by their nature used to being in charge. Churchill felt that since Britain had been in the war the longest that they should be given priority. Certainly had they not stood at the pointed end of the spear for so long and for the most part alone, the world might be a very different place. Great Britain held out long enough for the United States to finally get involved. Of course once the United States became involved, President Roosevelt felt that he should be in charge. Joseph Stalin wanted everything his way or the Soviet Union was simply going to do their own thing. It might seem like I am dogging these men but given the size of their egos and the scope of their undertaking, it amazes me that they worked together as well as they managed. Then you have the generals. I think putting General Eisenhower in charge of the allied armies was a stroke of genius. I cannot think of anyone else that could have managed the officers with which he had to fight a war. Each of them was convinced that he alone had the answer of how to win the war. “The Citizens of London” by Lynne Olsen is a good book and tells a great deal more than I covered in this description. It is well worth the reading for all of the students of history out there. The book also covers the interaction of the American service personnel and the citizens of Great Britain that lived around the bases that sprung up seemingly out of nowhere in preparation for the D-day invasion. In many cases the families had lost sons earlier in the war. Given the chance, I think that you would enjoy this book.
The first Yard of the Week award for 2020 was presented to Eric and Jessica Thompson for their beautiful yard at the corner of Pine and C Streets in Waurika. The award was presented by Chamber representatives Roy Bartling and Sharon Duncan. Pictured above ar Roy Bartling, Eric Thompson, Addison Thompson, Jessica Thompson, Griffin Thompson, Evan Davis and Sharon Duncan.
The Thompsons moved into the house three years ago and the yard has been a work in progress. When asked how they kept their yard so well manicured, Jessica replied, “have a husband who likes to be outside all the time.”
“We thank the Thompsons for taking such pride in our community and congratulate them on their well-deserved award,” Roy Bartling stated. “Next week we will honor another Waurikan for taking pride in our community. If you have a suggestion for a Yard of the Week award recipient, please call me at 580.313.0161.”
Thompson, Ronnie Michale, Ringling, OK; Warrant
Stowe, Dannion Gene of Tishomingo, OK; Possession of paraphernalia, possession of Controlled substance.
Odell, Mark Daniel of Ringling, OK; Warrant
Austin, Jessica Renee of Ringling, OK; Protective order violation
As you have probably heard, the USDA Farm Service Agency is administering a payment program for COVID-19 related losses associated with certain crops and livestock.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) opened up on May 26 for applications and will close on August 28, 2020. Applications can be submitted by phone or email at Farm Service Agency county offices across the country. Producers can find their local FSA office, and much more CFAP information, at www.farmers.gov/cfap. In addition to the CFAP application, a producer may need to submit forms and documentation to determine their eligibility for the program and agree to basic conservation requirements, which are required for all USDA programs. There is also a form for direct deposit. Anyone who used the drought program (Livestock Forage Program, or LFP) in 2014 or other years will be familiar with the process.
Once a producer’s total CFAP payment is calculated, they will receive a direct deposit for 80% of that payment relatively quickly. However, the remaining 20% will only be paid if enough funds are available. This assures that CFAP funds are spread across as many eligible livestock and crop producers as possible. Let’s be frank, $16 billion sounds like a lot of funds until you consider how much production of livestock, crops and specialty crops it is being spread across.
Let’s break down the payments for cattle producers further. First, producers will need to know their sales and their inventory. USDA is allowing both to be self-certified but have your documentation on hand and be prepared to produce it if asked. Cattle producers that sold cattle between January 15 and April 15 are eligible for a payment out of the CARES Act funds, provided those cattle were unpriced. USDA defined ‘unpriced cattle’ as those cattle that were ‘not subject to an agreed-upon price in the future through a forward contract, agreement, or similar binding document’. However, if you had another risk management instrument such as a Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) or put option in place the cattle are still eligible sales under CFAP.
If you did not have any sales in that window, then you may still be eligible for receiving a payment on the highest daily inventory between April 16 and May 14 out of CCC funds. Again, this is a self-certified inventory. Cattle producers will receive $33/head for that inventory.
Also, pay attention to the definitions of each category of cattle to sort them into the correct boxes. All of the breeding herd falls into ‘all other cattle’. Cull cows and bulls fall into ‘slaughter cattle – mature’. Calves, including unweaned calves, fall into ‘feeder cattle under 600 pounds’. Stockers you may have sold will fall into one of the two feeder cattle categories, depending on their weight. Fed cattle with average weights until 1400 pounds fall into ‘feeder cattle 600 pounds or greater’ for now, although that definition is under review.
This program allows producers to offset market losses for those cattle that still had risk exposure during the 2020 market decline. Don’t let the process scare you off, many producers have reported that, once they had their numbers in hand, it didn’t take long to apply. Get your application in as soon as possible.
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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: email@example.com has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies. Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.
Another Cemetery Fundraising lunch has come and gone. Thanks to the hard working volunteers and the good turn out on the part of both the townsfolk and the out of town visitors, it was a success. The menu consisted of pulled pork and sausage with sides of potato salad and coleslaw. Desserts for both the lunch and the bake sale were supplied by the local women. Many donations were received by mail, sent in by people that are making their homes elsewhere but still take the time to help out with the upkeep of the Ryan Cemetery. The contract for mowing this year has been awarded to the Wesley Martin family. Several years ago they worked for the contract holder and proved themselves more than capable of doing a good job. I’m sure that their standards will be maintained. Dustan Bryant did the cooking again this year, I think that most folks will agree that Dustan might have figured out how to smoke meat. Ol’ Dusty spent most of Saturday night and early Sunday morning tending to his cooker, so if you get the opportunity, say thank you to Dustan for the fine work that he does every year. Councilwoman Tammy Cotton and her band of merrymakers spent a lot of time and effort planning and preparing for this event and then spent a lot of Saturday evening cooking for the bake sale. I never did see this rum cake that she was talking about. A special thank you goes out to Tammy’s friend Holly for all of her hard work. Holly comes to Ryan every year to lend a helping hand with the event. After the meal and bake sale, the names of the raffle winners were drawn by an honest disinterested third party. Each winner got a $25 gift certificate to one of the local businesses, if you won you will be notified or you can check with Town Hall.
The summer reading program will be starting on June 16th and will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm at the Ryan Sr. Citizens Center. Mrs. T. J. Dewbre said that you can go to her Facebook page and find the Amazon wish list if you would like to help out, also volunteers are always welcome and they can use more arts and crafts supplies. Lunches will be provided. June’s theme will be insects so the kids will be learning more about all the creepy and crawly things. Most of the activities will be at the Sr. Citizens Center but there will be ample opportunity to be going outdoors.
I went looking for further inspiration for something for this week’s column and I found it in the guise of a fellow named Mike Rowe and a show called “Returning The Favor”. His description of the show is that they go out looking for do-gooders. They search out, celebrate and try to understand people whose efforts are spent trying to make the lives of people in their communities better. I have watched veterans helping other vets. One woman that owns a restaurant and during the pandemic she had to close, so her and her friends handed out meals to people that might miss a meal otherwise. Another woman that is rescuing both urban children and abused animals. Teaching children responsibility and the animals to trust humans again. One episode was about a man that converted his family owned whiskey distillery so that they could supply hand sanitizer. All of these folks function on donations and that is where Mike and his group come in, sometimes they give them equipement and sometimes money and sometimes both. If you are a sucker for a feel good story, this is a good place to go.
Be kind to one another.
Although the session was cut short by COVID-19, we did get nearly 200 bills signed into law. I’ll be discussing some of these measures in the coming weeks as well as providing updates as our state’s economy works to recover.
One bill that will help our state tremendously in the future is HB 4018 creating the Rural Broadband Expansion Act. Under the new law, a council will be assembled to study rural broadband access around the state and determine the costs for improving access to all Oklahomans. Stakeholders from various industries, officials from both the executive and legislative branches and rural stakeholders will be responsible with devising a plan to help get this basic 21st century need to all Oklahomans.
Sadly, Oklahoma currently ranks 47th in rural broadband access. This has caused tremendous problems, especially the last few months when students couldn’t access their online studies, unemployed individuals couldn’t file their weekly claim or access their benefits, and families couldn’t order food online. We are a digital nation. Everything you need is on the internet but many Oklahomans don’t have access to it so this council will work to change that. The council will be assembled and must hold its first meeting by the end of July.
Just as it was vital to have a land line in the past, it’s now imperative that families be connected to the internet. The health crisis changed many aspects of our lives including how government services are provided. While many changes will be temporary, how government services will be provided may be more permanent given the necessary budget cuts that had to be made this year due to low energy prices and the pandemic’s effect on our state’s economy.
One example of how state agencies are modernizing their services while also protecting their staff from furloughs or layoffs is the Department of Human Services (DHS) announcing they’ll be closing offices and allowing their staff to telework. These include the Jefferson and Tillman County DHS offices. There has been some concern over this, but I met with DHS and was assured that they are working through every single issue that may arise following this change. Everyone’s jobs are safe, and this will help the agency continue providing services while making the required 4% budget cut in the coming fiscal year.
Some agencies are still teleworking out of abundance of caution regarding COVID-19. Given that most state agencies received 4% budget cuts, teleworking may continue to be used in the coming year to help cut costs and protect jobs.
Lots of changes have occurred at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC). This small agency is tasked with distributing unemployment benefits and prior to the pandemic only received an average of 1,800 unemployment claims a week but have reached as high as nearly 94,000 in one week. The historic number of Oklahomans filing for unemployment (more than 500,000) uncovered some major problems with the agency’s outdated technology and website.
My heart goes out to those of you who have been unemployed and waiting for assistance the last couple of months. Hopefully, you were able to find assistance from other organizations and charities to help get you through this difficult time.
I’m pleased to say that OESC hired a new executive director and have major tremendous strides in resolving the backlog of cases, especially for those who are self-employed and have been waiting on the federal PUA, FPUC and PEUC benefits. Major technological, website and program upgrades helped OESC successfully resolve more than 70% of the backlog cases leaving only around 3,000 more to address. Everyone should have their benefits in the next couple of weeks.
Again, if you haven’t received any benefits please contact them to get an update on your case. If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’ll assist however we can.
Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris.Kidd@oksenate.gov.
Jacob Eck was elected mayor at Monday evening’s Waurika City Commissioner’s Meeting.
Kristi Winton is the new Office Clerk.