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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Nitschkes’ Circle N Ranch Recognized as Audubon Bird-Friendly Habitat

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    By Anthony Hauck – Communications Manager, Audubon Conservation Ranching,

    Waurika, Oklahoma — The Circle N Ranch, home ranch of Nitschke Natural Beef, owned and operated by Gary and Lauren Nitschke, has received a Bird-Friendly Habitat Certification from the National Audubon Society. Nitschke Natural Beef products and promotional materials can now carry the Audubon Certified bird friendly seal, which recognizes their origin on lands managed for birds and biodiversity.

    The Nitschkes’ entire ranch is enrolled in Audubon Conservation Ranching, a sprout up habitat program working to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in Oklahoma and across the U.S. Uniquely, Audubon Conservation Ranching connects consumers to conservation through the marketplace, distinguishing products that come from lands actively managed for wildlife through rotational and regenerative grazing practices. At the Circle N Ranch, this means the Nitschkes are using their cattle beyond beef production, but also to create a mosaic of habitat for priority birds, including flagship species such as the Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Meadowlark, and the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – Oklahoma’s state bird.

    For the Nitschkes, the habitat partnership with Audubon is the next step in an evolution of stewardship dating to 2003, when they became second-generation ranch owners.

    “Audubon Conservation Ranching provides our ranch with another level of distinction, as well as program standards that align with our lifelong values of caring for the environment and animals,” Lauren Nitschke said. Lands must meet program standards in the areas of habitat management, environmental sustainability, and animal health and welfare to receive Audubon’s bird-friendly certification.

    Thomas Schroeder, Audubon Conservation Ranching Manager in Oklahoma and Texas, said the Nitschkes’ ground-up philosophy, long focused on building organic matter and putting health back into the soil, is the base for good grassland habitat. “Healthy soil makes for healthy grass, and healthy grasslands make for healthy wildlife,” Schroeder said. Added habitat enhancements, including the conversion of some cropland back to grasslands, will benefit pollinating insects and a host of other grassland-dependent bird species, including the Bell’s Vireo, Dickcissel, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow’s Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Sedge Wren, and Upland Sandpiper.

    Nitschke Natural Beef specializes in custom, family-sized cutting orders with a Dallas-Fort Worth and north Texas delivery area. The Circle N Ranch is also a producer for the Grassfed Livestock Alliance, which supplies locally-produced grassfed meats to the Southwest Region of Whole Foods Market. For more information, contact Nitschke Natural Beef.

    Nitschke Natural Beef
    All Pasture • All the Time
    https://nnbeef.com

    For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching in Oklahoma and Texas, contact Thomas Schroeder at (512) 663-2944.

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    Rufous Hummingbird. Rufous Hummingbird. Walter Nussbaumer/Audubon Photography Awards

    INHOFE STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVING LAKES, WATERWAYS AND FLOOD CONTROL SYSTEMS IN OKLAHOMA

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    WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, questioned witnesses at a hearing on the Water Resource Development Act Oversight: USACE Implementation of Water Infrastructure Projects, Programs and Priorities.

    Witnesses included: the Honorable Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

    Inhofe: First, let me thank Senator Capito for allowing me to take place in this order. I have had occasion to spend some time with both the gentlemen, Spellmon and Michael Connor, and we are in agreement about so many different things; it’s so important for my state of Oklahoma. I have to share with the rest of the people here about how serious of a flood that we had in 2019. The only ammunition we had at that time was the Tulsa Levee and West Tulsa Levee system. Now, this actually was at a time, it was put together, it was actually when I was four years old. It far exceeded its service life. So, we had the levee system. And when our flood came, in 2019, more people – professionals – believed that we were going to be breaking the levee and really having a disastrous situation. It did perform, and I can remember actually being personally down there when the water was coming through, and nobody thought that it was going to be able to hold. We put in emergency things right after that, and now, we are in a situation that certainly Secretary Connor is familiar with as something that is serious, and I know you are aware of the seriousness of this thing. So, we have this levee system, and we are hoping and doing everything we can to ensure that we are going to be able to hold this out in the event of another one. It was a close call, a very close call.

    The other thing I wanted to make sure I had time to mention is our MKARNS. You know people don’t realize that we are navigable in Oklahoma. We are the most inland navigable system in the country, and it’s something that people don’t realize. We have more miles of fresh-water shoreline than any other of the 50 states. Now, there’s a reason for that. Because ours are all man-made lakes. Man-made lakes give you a lot of shoreline because they have a dam down and they go across a lot of it. People are not aware, but that is something serious. The other thing that is of concern is that we are navigable in terms of having the capability to take care of the things we need. For example, our navigation way coming to the state of Oklahoma is 98 percent 12-foot channel. That means that we have two percent that’s not a 12-foot channel; it’s a 9-foot channel. That’s one of the things that’s been on our list for a long period of time. It’s been authorized, and I just want to make sure that I take this opportunity, Mr. Connor, reminding you of what you and I have talked about before and the seriousness of what we are facing now with these two projects. One being, of course, the levee system; that it would hold up for not another hundred years, but start working immediately with top priority. I believe that it has that along with the deepening of the MKARNS.

    Would you share your thoughts on those two projects?

    Connor: Senator Inhofe, thank you for the conversations regarding these projects and the ongoing dialogue. I think they represent two very high priority aspects of the overall Army Corps of Engineers program. That is, obviously, in respect to the levees, our need to maintain, rehabilitate and do any new construction with an eye towards resilience; particularly given the 2019 flooding situations. We know what extreme events can bring, and so that brings a focus to move forward with your project in west Tulsa. The inland waterways issue with the 12-foot navigation channel, I think I remember during my confirmation process, I mentioned that I had done some background in preparation for talking with you. I saw the Port of Tulsa, and I was really was taken aback at the Port of Tulsa. My first trip out of the box here was on the Mississippi River, Illinois River, seeing the dam and locks system and talking with the folks involved in our navigable inland waterways and moving commerce on that system and the need for reliability, the benefits that exist from efficient delivery, arguably, and our need to maintain and improve that system so that it continues to be an important part of our commerce system. Part and parcel, that’s one of our priorities is shoring up the supply chain, and so from that standpoint, I am with you in the importance of those projects, sir.

    Inhofe: And I appreciate that very much. The last thing I would mention is on our lakes development. I never knew why it was this way, but it always seems that they were concerned with navigation and flood control but not recreation. We have so many great opportunities for recreation, and that is something that we are looking at for the first time. I actually, I was chairman, I guess, of this committee during the ’07 WRDA legislation. We made some advancement at that time and again in 2020, but I would like to say that we have all changed in our priorities on the lake system that we have. We recognize that recreation is a very important opportunity for us in our state of Oklahoma. I would hope that you would agree that that is an area that we need to concentrate on for everyone’s benefit.

    Connor: Absolutely, Senator. I have a long history at the Interior Department. I was glad to hear when I came over in this position that we have more campgrounds in the Army Corps of Engineers program than the National Parks Service. I understand the importance of that, particularly during the pandemic. We’ve seen how people have gone to recreate in federal facilities outdoors. It’s an important part of the portfolio because it serves those communities in which we exist.

    Inhofe: Well, I appreciate that and thank you, Senator Capito.

    Lionel Richie to Receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

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    Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced that pop music icon Lionel Richie will be the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Richie will be honored with an all-star tribute concert in Washington, D.C., that will be broadcast nationally on PBS stations May 17 at 9 p.m. ET.

    A songwriting superstar of the first order, Richie is known for his mega-hits such as “Endless Love,” “Lady,” “Truly,” “All Night Long,” “Penny Lover,” “Stuck on You,” “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and he co-wrote one of the most important pop songs in history, “We Are the World,” for USA for Africa. His song catalog also includes his early work with the Commodores, where he developed a groundbreaking style that defied genre categories, penning smashes such as “Three Times a Lady,” “Still,” and “Easy.” Richie achieved the incredible distinction of writing No. 1 songs for 11 consecutive years.

    Beyond his own impressive music career, Richie has mentored young artists as a judge on ABC’s “American Idol” for the past four seasons and is set to return for the show’s 20th season.

    “In so many ways, this national honor was made for Lionel Richie whose music has entertained and inspired us — and helped strengthen our global connections,” Hayden said. “Lionel Richie’s unforgettable work has shown us that music can bring us together. Even when we face problems and disagree on issues, songs can show us what we have in common.”

    Richie’s songs are part of the fabric of pop music and American culture. The Tuskegee, Alabama, native has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide. He has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, four Grammy Awards, the distinction of MusicCares Person of the Year in 2016, and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2017.

    “This is truly an honor of a lifetime, and I am so grateful to be receiving the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” Richie said. “I am proud to be joining all the other previous artists, who I also admire and am a fan of their music.”

    Bestowed in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Gershwin Prize recognizes a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of entertainment, information, inspiration and cultural understanding. The honoree is selected by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a board of scholars, producers, performers, songwriters and other music specialists. Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and Garth Brooks.

    Richie will receive the Gershwin Prize at an all-star tribute concert in Washington, D.C., on March 9. PBS stations will broadcast the concert — “Lionel Richie: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” — at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 17, (check local listings) and on  PBS.org and the PBS Video App as part of the co-produced Emmy Award-winning music series. It will also be broadcast to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world via the American Forces Network.

    Please visit our virtual newsroom for additional materials and media assets related to this announcement.

    “Lionel Richie: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” is a co-production of WETA Washington, D.C.; Bounce, a division of Concord Music Group; and the Library of Congress.

    “As producer of the vibrant series since its inception, we are excited to bring this new concert honoring Lionel Richie to the American people in collaboration with the Library of Congress,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “This special production exemplifies WETA’s ongoing commitment to showcasing arts and culture in the nation’s capital and honoring leading artists who have made extraordinary contributions to popular music.”

    “We’re thrilled to partner with the Library of Congress, WETA and our member stations to celebrate Lionel Richie and his extraordinary artistic contributions,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “As America’s largest stage for the arts, PBS remains committed to bringing the best of music, theatre and dance to our audiences.”

    Major funding for the broadcast is provided by the PBS and public television viewers. Wells Fargo is the presenting sponsor. Additional funding is provided by the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Fund and the Leonore S. Gershwin Trust for the benefit of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, Michael Strunsky, trustee; AARP; Universal Music Group; the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; and William C. Burton. Air transportation is provided by United Airlines.

    About Lionel Richie

    International superstar Lionel Richie has a discography of albums and singles that are second to none. With more than 125 million albums sold worldwide, he has been awarded an Oscar, a Golden Globe, four Grammy Awards, the distinction of MusicCares Person of the Year in 2016, and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2017. In March 2018, Richie put his handprints and footprints in cement at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, one of the oldest awards in Hollywood. He recently received the Ivor Novello PRS for Music Special International Award. 

    Richie sold out arenas worldwide with a set list of his brightest and best anthems on his All The Hits, All Night Long Tour. In recent years, he also headlined festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Glastonbury, drawing the festival’s biggest crowd ever with more than 200,000 attendees.

    Richie took fans on a spectacular musical journey with his latest album, Live from Las Vegas along with his most recent tour, the “Hello” tour, which kicked off in summer 2019. The album, which was released on August 16, 2019 was No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart. The album also marks the legendary artist’s first release on Capitol Records.

    Richie was a judge on ABC’s “American Idol” for the past four seasons and is set to return to the judge’s chair for the show’s 20th season.  He launched his Las Vegas headlining residency show, Lionel Richie — All the Hits in April 2016. In an unforgettable evening featuring his brightest and best anthems that have defined the music icon’s unparalleled career, Richie took his fans on a spectacular musical journey, performing a variety of his seminal hits. Richie recently extended his “Back to Las Vegas” residency at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore Theater with a 12-show engagement in 2022.

    About the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

    The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations of musicians.

    In making the selection for the prize, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library’s Music Division, American Folklife Center and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

    The Gershwin name is used in connection with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song courtesy of the families of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. GERSHWIN is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises.

    The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

    Veterans Day Parade

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    Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Veterans Day Parade.

    Here are some of the highlights from the event:

    Exciting Changes Are Coming to Waurika Head Start

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      Waurika Head Start program has been serving families in Jefferson County for many years.  The center is currently under the direction of Gaylon Wadsworth and co-teacher Amanda Earnest.  The center nutrition program is led by Carol Prewitt.  Concerns over Covid-19 led to many challenges last year, and enrollment was impacted.  In order to increase enrollment and better serve the families of the community, Waurika Head Start will be open for a full day of school this school year.

      Families of Waurika Head Start students will no longer have the challenge of finding additional child care after lunch.  The new school day will last from 8:00AM to 3:00PM.  Students will receive instruction based on National Head Start Standards, and will help prepare students for elementary school.

      Leslea Hixson, the new Director of Head Start and Early Head Start, added, “We are very excited to be able to continue to serve the families of Waurika, and hope the additional time in the school day will help to better meet the needs of our families.”  School will begin August 12th, but families can call (580)228-2810 to enroll at any time.  You can also contact Head Start offices at any time by email at, CADCHobart@sbcglobal.com, or by phone at, 

      (580)726-3343.

      Waurika Ranch Rodeo Results

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        Above: Winning Team: Diamond H/Plus C Cattle

        Top Hand: Rodey Wilson of Willson Cattle

        Top Horse: Jayten McCright – Slash W

        2. Bonds

        3. Wilson

        4. Sarco Creek/Lemond

        5. EC Cattle/Mule Creek   (Above Photo by Elizabeth Scott; Photo to right by Elizabeth Scott)

        Photo by Elizabeth Scott

        Women’s Rodeo at Coyote Hills Arena

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          There were two women’s ranch rodeos Saturday morning at Coyote Hills Arena. The rodeo was sanctioned with the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association.

           Winners of Rodeo Number 2

          Above: Top Team of both rodeos:1st Push Hard Cattle (Nessa Smith, Billie Franks, Rebecca Wilson, Michelle Dyer)

          2nd Espuela (JV Thomas, Ginny Jo Thomas, Kelsey Love Thomas, Heather Borg)

          3rd McClemore Cattle (Presley Reid, Nakona Danley, Gracie Paul, Rasey Runyan)

          Above: 

          Winners of rodeo #1 

          1st Calvary Cross in order from right to left to right Whitney Hall, Stephanie Spillers, Pam McCleskey, Brooke Wilson

          2nd Push Hard Cattle (Nessa Smith, Billie Franks, Rebecca Wilson, Michelle Dyer)

          3rd Espuela (JV Thomas, Ginny Jo Thomas, Kelsey Love Thomas, Heather Borg)

           Above: Top Horse Gracie Paul received handmade headstall buckle donated by Dyer Horseshoeing (Submitted Photo)

          Above:

          Top Hand Kelsey Love Thomas

          She received a handmade headstall buckle donated by Dyer Horseshoeing

          (Submitted Photo)

          Downtown Again Schedule

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          2021 EVENT INFORMATION – May 15, 2021

          As mentioned above, the focal point of this year’s event will be celebrating  Sorosis Park on the North end of Main Street. There will also be many things to come see, shop, and take part in all up and down Main Street.

          • Downtown Dash 5K & 1  Mile Walk
          • (Registration 8am, 9am Start. All ages welcome)
          • Farmer’s Market Season Opener 8 AM-11:30 AM
          • Cornhole Tournament – 11 AM
          • 3v3 Basketball Tournament – 1 PM (Adult & Youth divisions)
          • Sorosis Park – 5:30 PM
            • Live Music
            • Artist Dr. Palmer Mural Signing
          • Pop-up Dog Park @ The Lawn
          • Food (Taco Truck, Circle D Cafe & more)
          • Crafters & Pop-up shops
          • WVFD Beer Garden (D & MAIN)
          • Inflatable Kid’s Zone
          • Dunk Tank
          • Free Activities
          • Evening Movie (9 PM)

          Waurika Sorosis Club Hosts “Let’s Talk Waurika”

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          Last Thursday evening the Waurika Sorosis Club hosted Let’s Talk Waurika.  Rain and cold weather moved the meeting inside the Fellowship Hall of the Methodist Church, but did not dampen the enthusiasm for the presenters and the public forum after where attendees shared their visions for Parks and Recreation for Waurika.  “It was a great start to a much bigger conversation,” Sharon Duncan, project chairman stated. “Waurika has a beautiful landscape to work with and we are thrilled that so many came out and provided excellent ideas for the project.”  This is the fourth year that the Sorosis Club has sponsored the Let’s Talk Waurika event. 

          Monica Bartling

          Cody Simmons, Waurika Public Schools Superintendent, was the first presenter and gave an excellent update on how the most recent bond issue had significantly helped the elementary, middle and high school campuses, the athletic fields, and provided technology upgrades that benefit all students.  He also provided an update on the on-going virtual learning plans for the school and also thanked the community for its continuous investment in our children. 

          Waurika Supt. Cody Simmons

          Next up on the program was Richard Gillespie, President of Jefferson County Hospital.  Mr. Gillespie spoke about the improvements taking place at the hospital through the investment of Duncan Regional Hospital in our facility.  One of the main improvements is the air handling capabilities and air conditioning systems being added at this time.  These improvements allow patient rooms to have updated airflow that do not recycle the same air and replace the current hotel style units. This is a significant upgrade and will improve the overall patient care. There will also be a new backup generator installed. This upgrade will provide electrical power to the whole building. He also talked about the new rotation for Doctors from Duncan Regional Hospital who are now providing patient care for those patients in the skilled care wing of the hospital.  Gillespie said that one cent sales tax bond should be retired a little ahead of schedule. The $2,100,000 loan started in February of 2017 for seven years. The balance is now $843,000.  In closing, Mr. Gillespie thanked the Team at JCH for their dedication to providing exceptional quality care. He also thanked the community for their strong support of the hospital.

          Richard Gillespie, President of Jefferson County Hospital

          City Manager, Kyote Dunn, was next up on the program and he talked about how he was now almost three months into the job and was still learning, but is already working on a CDBG Grant to provide a major improvement and repair on Waurika’s Sewer System as well as several additional grants for various projects that he would like to pursue. The CDBG Grant will allow the City to perform much needed maintenance and repair on the City’s sewer system and will save the City almost $300,000. 

          Dunn also mentioned that he is pleased with the current path that Waurika is on and will work diligently with the community and various groups to continue pushing Waurika forward. 

          Waurika City Manager Kyote Dunn

          Jefferson County Commissioner for District One, Bryce Bohot, was next on the program.  He talked about the retirement of the Hospital Bond coming up in a couple of years and how our community needed to begin considering keeping that one cent sales tax to support Jefferson County.  He mentioned that we do not want to be consolidated with another county and lose the local presence of our government offices and that having the funds from the 1 cent sales tax go to the county, might help us avoid that happening. 

          Dist. 1 County Commissioner Bryce Bohot

          At the conclusion of the four speakers, Brad Scott, former City Manager and community leader, lead a community forum on the vision for Waurika’s Parks and Recreation opportunities and what the group felt was the best use for our open spaces.  When the 50 plus attendees entered the meeting, they were asked to go to 7 stations where easels had questions about parks and recreational needs. The questions asked and the responses are listed below. Scott discussed the responses on the boards and talked about additional plans and ideas that were still in the concept stages.  When Scott was city manager, he started working with a small group of citizens to work on clean up projects and to come up with a three, five and longer-term plan for parks and recreation for the city.  This group has worked with Craig Williams from Williams Landscape in Lawton to assist his efforts with main street beautification, Sorosis Park updates and to maintain the flowers and flower beds at Veterans Park.  With the Sorosis Park project coming to conclusion soon, the group wanted to bring in more thoughts on what the community felt were the biggest needs to enhance Waurika as the best place to live, work and play. 

          Brad Scott, former city manager and community leader.

          Question One: “What is your favorite type of outdoor Recreation and fun?”. Responses: Green Space for open play for kids and families; walking, basketball, picnic areas, swimming/water play; walking, bicycling; hunting and fishing; and planting flowers.

          Question Two: “Does Waurika need a Splash Pad and Where should it be located?”  We had 10 yes responses from the group and about 10 more from people who couldn’t attend, but asked to be included.  Responses to location were varied and equally divided between Harmon Park (close to the former golf course/clubhouse) and Centennial Park.  One concept presented was a splash pad in conjunction with a Water Park like Boomtown Bay.  We had one no because of water treatment issues. 

          Question Three: “Would you use a Walking/Fitness Trail through Harmon Park?”  Nine participants voted yes to this with one clarification about clearing the poison ivy first.

          Question Four: “Would you enjoy a Par 3 golf course at Harmon Park?”  We had seven participants respond yes to this question with no negative votes.

          Question Five: “Do we need more playground equipment at Centennial (former Jaycee) Park?” Responses were all yes. Suggestions for equipment were:  Volleyball, tetherball, small basketball area, sandbox, tricycle path, large artboard, new swings and a soccer goal. Also mentioned was to update the current metal equipment with new paint and to add a few items for younger children. 

          Question Six: “What is your vision for using the clubhouse at the former golf course?”  Several mentions were made for a restaurant with a bar and grill, patio space, outdoor music venue, and a family gathering spot. 

          Question Seven: “When was your last visit to Harmon Park and what did you do?”  Responses:  Two years ago, took family pictures; five years ago, pictures; often for disc golf; 2 years ago, cleaning up brush; 1 month ago, to let kids and dogs run around; and pictures.  

          Scott wrapped up the meeting by making sure that people were aware that work continues on all the spaces and that the pavilion at Harmon Park was one example of work completed.  He also invited everyone to a community event and fundraiser on May 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Sorosis Park at D and Main.  Proceeds from this event will support continued beautification efforts. 

          Woods and Waters

          As I write this Tuesday morning I wonder how many of you got much sleep last night? Thank goodness our little corner of Oklahoma was spared any severe weather and our prayers go out to those suffering with tornado and flood damage throughout the state!

           The fishing reports I’ve gotten from Lake Waurika have been great on the north area, especially around the island, despite the high water levels.  I know Houston Scott and Slade Cathey have been slaying the crappie and bass the last few weeks on their ponds.

           On another note, please remember that the Farmer’s Market will take place this weekend after being cancelled last Saturday because of weather! Come out and support our local folks.

            I happened on an interesting article last week about turtles and tortoises I think you will find informative.

           A tortoise is a turtle but a turtle is not necessarily a tortoise. Confusing isn’t it?

           The tongue twister of the relationship between turtles and tortoises is the same as those two boxy geometric shapes we learned in elementary school. A tortoise is a turtle just like a square is a rectangle, but a turtle is not a tortoise just like a rectangle is not always a square.

           “Turtle” is a broad term that can refer to any reptile with a shell. However, the classification can be further broken down into types of turtles. Confusingly, a turtle is a type of turtle. Tortoises and terrapins are the other two kinds of turtles.

          Tortoise or Turtle

           If you look at the larger picture, all turtles are reptiles with a shell, and therefore all tortoises are turtles–in the broadest sense of the word. However, in the smaller scope of things, when you divide the larger category into three different types, you see that a turtle is not necessarily a tortoise or even a turtle, because it can be a terrapin instead.

           Are you confused yet?  Let’s leave our vocabulary lesson behind for now and dive right into the science of things. In order to have divisions of these reptiles, they have to have different characteristics.

           Distinguishing attributes of the feet, shell and habitat help to tell these reptiles apart. The most obvious distinction is where they live. Tortoises live on land. Turtles can live in water or land, with some species being almost solely aquatic.

          No doubt about this one!

           As terrestrial individuals, tortoises adapted flat feet to more easily traverse the landscape. For life in the water, turtles have at least some degree of webbing between their toes–even full-fledged flippers in the most aquatic individuals.

           Box turtles spend a lot of time on land and so are often mistaken for tortoises. But, they have slightly webbed feet, making them turtles!

           The last difference between turtles and tortoises is shell shape. Because turtles spend time in the water, their shells are flatter for stream-lined swimming. A tortoise has more of a dome shape to its shell. As Box turtles spend most of their life on land, their shells look more like an Aldabra tortoise than a red-eared slider.

           To clarify things even further, the tortoise shell pattern seen on sunglasses is not actually made from tortoises. It was made from turtles–the hawksbill sea turtle, specifically. Nowadays, the species is protected and so that material is just plastic. 

          Common red-eared turtle!

           The shape of a turtle’s body with regard to its feet and shell can offer understanding of its habitat. It also helps you classify if it is indeed a turtle or a tortoise!  To simplify-they are all TURTLES!

           Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market this weekend and certainly keep in mind those that have gone before us and our Veterans who gave it all!

           In the meantime get out and enjoy our great Oklahoma outdoors!