he Ryan High School Alumni Association held its bi-annual alumni banquet over the recent Labor Day weekend.
The highlight of the weekend was the banquet held in the high school cafeteria/auditorium where the majority of the people in attendance walked across the stage to graduate from Ryan High School.
Nearly 100 alumni, family and friends gathered for the banquet that was highlighted by a catered meal from Branding Iron of Wichita Falls, TX.
Rob Givens, a 1975 graduate of RHS, was the featured speaker for the afternoon.
Givens recounted the story of how Brown Brothers Dry Goods in Ryan got its name and a little history behind it.
The last operator of the store was Givens’ dad, Bob Givens, who was known to most everyone in Ryan as a businessman and supporter of all Ryan High School activities.
Bob Givens, for whom the athletic complex is named at Ryan, was the public address announcer at the high school football games for 50 years.
After the elder Givens graduated from high school at Ryan, he joined the army and his son told the story of his dad being missing in action at one time, but returned home and never left Ryan again.
The presentation and introduction of classes was done by Tommy Johnson.
Following the introduction of the classes, the oldest graduate, youngest graduate and the graduate who traveled the furtherest were recognized and awarded a copy of the book, “The Pride of RHS: A Sports History of Ryan High School.”
Earning the oldest graduate present was Nell Largent. The youngest graduate was Alana Miranda. The person traveling the furtherest was Gary Reynolds, who came from Jackson, Tennessee.
The reading of RHS graduates who have died since the last banquet was done by Angela Sullivan, T. Johnson, Furman Clark and Don Johnson.
Since the banquet was interrupted by the pandemic, it had been three years since the association had gathered for the banquet held every two years. A list of 98 names was read to the crowd.
D. Johnson, president of the alumni association, read the names of the scholarship recipients for the past three years. The alumni association awards two scholarships to the top two seniors of the Ryan graduating classes each year.
In the program, it was noted that 35 scholarships have been given through the years in the amount of $46,350.
All of the current officers were re-elected to serve again and they will be tasked along with other volunteers to put together the next banquet which will be Labor Day weekend of 2024.
Plans are being made to try and encourage increased attendance at the banquet – especially among the local people. Many RHS graduates traveled across the state and beyond and this event would be enhanced by the participation of local people.
The class of 1972 sponsored an event on Saturday night at the American Legion as they were celebrating their 50th year since graduating at Ryan.
The class of 1962, celebrating their 60th year since graduating, also had a good representation present at the banquet.
On August 23, Jefferson County voters have an opportunity to vote on continuing a one cent sales tax that is currently providing funding for the Jefferson County Hospital. Hospital officials project their obligation will be paid off this year. Jefferson County Commissioners want to keep the one cent tax and use it to place the county in a better financial position. According to Jeffco officials continuing the tax will provide vital funding to meet mandated obligations and position the county to spend money on other important areas like rural fire, better roads and courthouse repairs as well as repairs at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
County officials are presenting a series of Town Meetings to answer questions and talk about how the county works and how funding and budgeting works for counties across Oklahoma. “Our initial One Cent Tax was passed by voters in 1992. It was slated for general county operations, and for the support of county civil defense, OSU extension, county law enforcement, county-wide rural fire protection and fair board maintenance and operations,” according to Bryce Bohot, District One Commissioner. “If you consider it’s now 30 years later and how the cost of everything has risen, that the limited dollars we have to work with can only be increased by sales tax, then it’s vital that this proposition passes. Having these dollars available means that we can actually accomplish all the items mentioned in the original proposal,” Bohot continued. “We still have the same needs, and these dollars will allow us to budget for each of the areas and to have dollars available for matching grants that will make the dollars go even farther.”
The first two town meetings were held Monday evening in Addington and Hastings. The full meetings are posted to Facebook under the Friends of Jefferson County Group. “We encourage everyone to attend one of the meetings,” Bohot stated. “However, having the full meetings with all the questions and answers available provides a great way for people to watch from home. I’m also available to answer any questions you may have.”
At both meetings the same questions were asked. Attendees wanted an assurance that this was not an additional tax or a new tax; that it would not raise their property taxes and that the county would not come back in a couple of years and ask for an additional increase. Attendees also wanted to make sure there would be dollars available to support our rural fire departments and that those monies would be distributed fairly.
“Oklahoma law allows rural counties to have up to a 2 cent sales tax for county operations,” Bryce Bohot said at both the Hastings and Addington Town Meetings. “We are not allowed to go back to the voters for more sales tax.”
“Having the two cents of sales tax will actually allow us to go back to the original list of items on the 1992 Proposition and begin working with the various groups to get their items budgeted,” Bohot stated. “For the past several years, we have never gotten past the basic mandated items and have not been able to fully fund those items. This additional tax projected to be approximately $35,000 to $40,000 per month will allow us to not only fund the items mentioned, but also to begin saving dollars to use as matching funds to make the county funds go farther.” “Currently we spend all our time trying to cover whatever urgent need we have at the moment. These dollars will allow us to actually plan for a stronger future for all of us.”
“Rural Fire Department funding was part of the original sales tax proposition and is vitally important to our county,” Bohot stated. “I’m part of the Hastings Volunteer Fire Department and I fully understand how important all the volunteer departments are to the county. I’m pleased that all the departments are coming together once a month to meet and share information. I’ve talked with several of the volunteers and talked about the budgeting process and how it would be great for them to come to the budget planning session and bring their projected needs for the coming year. We would visit with them about providing funding for their priorities and would make that part of the budget.”
Denise Bacon, Addington resident, made an excellent point when she asked the group if this helped them understand the importance of shopping local because your sales tax stays right her at home and supports the towns and Jefferson County.
“I hope voters understand that this not asking for a tax increase, but to keep the one cent that is already in place,” County Commissioner, Ty Phillips explained. “Voters have supported the one cent tax for the hospital for the past 23 years and the hospital is retiring their debt and no longer needs the funds. Keeping the one cent that is already in place for the county will go a long way toward allowing us to get Jefferson County up to mandated standards and also so we can have funds to use for matching grants that can help all our organizations including emergency services and rural fire.”
There are three more town meetings that all residents are invited to attend. Monday, August 15 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center; Monday, August 15, at 7:30 at the Claypool Community Center and on Tuesday, August 16, at the Waurika Presbyterian Church.
Jefferson County residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, August 23 for a special run-off election that includes voting on maintaining a one cent sales tax that was originally earmarked for the Jefferson County Hospital. The Jefferson County Hospital Authority no longer needs those funds, but our county officials want to put those dollars to work for some much needed projects.
“Keeping the one cent sales tax active will allow us to keep our county government local,” stated Bryce Bohot, Jefferson County Commissioner for District One. “It’s essentially the same idea as keeping our hospital local and keeping those important services available here, we need to ensure that we keep our county services here, too.”
“It’s important to note that voting yes on the sales tax, does not increase your property taxes. It only impacts sales tax and it is not an increase from what you are currently paying,” Bohot continued.
In order to keep services local, the one cent sales tax would be used for many improvements, including, but not limited to the following areas:
• To ensure that necessary repairs can be made to our County Courthouse and Jefferson County Fairgrounds buildings.
• To comply with Oklahoma state statutes on paying all elected officials & first deputies out of the county general fund.
• Bring our County Jail up to state mandated codes.
• Increasing the dollars available for improving our county roads.
• Operating at a level where there is matching funding available for grants to support future projects without additional indebtedness.
County officials have scheduled a series of Town Meetings for area residents to get their questions answered about the importance of keeping the one cent tax for Jefferson County. The meeting days and times are: Addington, Monday, August 8, 6 p.m., Addington Community Center; Hastings, Monday, August 8, 7:30 p.m. Hastings Senior Citizens Center; Terral/Grady, Tuesday, August 9, 6 p.m., Terral Community Center; Ryan/Sugden, Friday, August 12, 6 p.m. Ryan Senior Citizens Center; Ringling, Monday, August 15, 6 p.m. Ringling Community Center; Claypool, Monday, August 15, 7:30 p.m. Claypool Community Center; and Waurika/Sugden, Tuesday, August 16, 6 p.m. Waurika Presbyterian Church, 124 W. Broadway, Waurika.
Students, families can sign up for OSDE’s Math Tutoring Corps through Sept. 1
OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 15, 2022) – The Math Tutoring Corps initiative offered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is encouraging interested Oklahoma families to register their students for free, high-dosage tutoring in mathematics. Beginning in September, trained tutors will work with groups of no more than four students in grades 7, 8 and 9 to reinforce the math processes they are studying in class and prepare them for higher-level coursework.
The tutoring will be done virtually and is designed for students who seek targeted support for growth in grade-level mathematics. Students will attend three 50-minute online tutoring sessions per week.
“Research has shown that students who participate in intensive, high-dosage tutoring improve their grades in math,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “The Math Tutoring Corps will help kids have greater confidence in their math skills and be more college and career ready.”
The OSDE launched a successful pilot program for Math Tutoring Corps in spring 2022, with nearly 400 participants. A post-pilot survey revealed:
90% of participants increased their understanding of mathematics.
84% of families said participating students were more confident about math.
84% of students indicated they would be more likely to persevere after making a mistake.
Students are eligible to participate in one or both of the OSDE’s Math Tutoring Corps sessions during the 2022-23 school year. Each session can accommodate up to 1,500 students. The first runs Sept. 18 through Nov. 19, the second in spring 2023. Families and students can enroll for the upcoming session through this linkby Sept. 1. The OSDE will provide any needed technology or internet access, and tutoring schedules will occur during students’ free time outside of the school day.
D-K Metal is a family business. It’s been family owned and operated since day one. The name itself stands for Don, Dora Donnie and Keith (Lisa wasn’t born yet). Thus the D-K Metal Form Company was born. It all began in 1972 at the same location on which it stands today. Before that the building had been a mechanic shop and a car dealership.
The building was built by Mr. Simmons (Bill and June Simmons). Later Hubert Welch bought it and turned it into a mechanic shop. One of the mechanics who worked there was Don Watkins.
Don Watkins and his business partner, owner of Wichita Metal Products of Wichita Falls, had the original idea for the business. Don had been a salesman for a steel supplier known as AMSCO. One of his customer’s was Wichita Metal Products. The owner needed a better supplier. Together they came up the idea of starting their own metal shop. Fifty years later they are still supplying Wichita Metal Products with supplies.
Originally, the Watkins family had to lease the property in order to begin. When they first took over the property they spent a month remodeling the facility in order to convert it for the purpose it fulfills today. Larger doors had to be installed, new wiring had to be run and the huge brake presses and sheers had to be put in place. Once the building was ready, it took about a week for the first load of steel to arrive.
Donnie Watkins remembers being 13 years old when the remodeling process began. At the age of 14 he would ride his motorcycle to work.
Keith Watkins began working in the family business when he was 12, sweeping the floors. Later he was promoted to stacking (and sweeping the floors).
Donnie and Keith have been partners since their father, Don, passed away in 1990 (Their mother Dora passed in 2021). At that time, Keith dropped out of college and came back to help operate the family business. Some have commented, “I don’t see how brothers can work together.” What they don’t realize is that not only are they brothers, they are also best friends.
Donnie is married to the County Assessor, Sandra (daughter of Fred and Betty Richardson former co-owners of Gerken-Richardson Auto in Waurika. Gary and Becky Gerken were the other owners. Becky is Sandra’s sister). Keith is married to Patricia (Martin), she and her father were the previous owners of the bent can store that was located in downtown Waurika.
The Watkins are descendants of Merle and Jewel Watkins and Lester and Thelma Neal. Merle worked for the WPA, was a farmer and worked for the state. The Neals moved here from Sulphur. Lester had worked for a ranch there that moved their operations here and settled near Claypool.
Over the years they have built parts for new military bases and new towns in Saudi Arabia. They built parts used in facilities constructed for the Summer Olympics of 1996 held in Atlanta Georgia. At one time they even built front bumpers for pickup trucks. They also supplied parts for up to 17 manufactured home companies.
They also supplied specialty parts for the Denver Airport. This was a huge job that literally took a toll on Donnie’s health. He has now been retired for four years. However, he still comes by the shop everyday at noon. If he didn’t he says he would go crazy.
Over the years they have been loyal to their customers and their customers have been loyal to them.
At the height of their productivity, D-K would run two shifts per day. Donnie remembers those days because when he would arrive at work he would have to stack the scrap metal left over from the night crew before tackling his duties for the day crew. During that time they employed around 17 people at one time. One of those working at that time was Terry Pilgreen.
D-K Metal is a parts builder says Keith. He and Donnie said they take flat metal and shape it and mold it into whatever the customer needs.
Their days are long hot and exhausting. It can also be tedious. Some days a worker will stand in the same position for several hours in repetitive motion contraction the same part over and over again.
It takes a steady hand and complete concentration, especially when you are constructing 10,000 identical pieces.
Things have certainly changed over the years. Donnie says he can remember when metal was only 13 cents per pound. It’s over $1 per pound now. They’ve experienced lean times and prosperous times. Things got really tough after 2008. There were times when they only fired up the machines two times per month. Things were tough during the COVID crises as well.
The Watkins brothers are proud to say their employees have always been like a family. Many of their employees stayed with them over 20 years. Some worked for the Watkins more than 30 years. Donnie says he misses those employees who were his lifelong friends. “If you work with someone for 30 years, 8 and 9 hours per day, you are going to know everything about their kids and things going on in their life. You spend more time with them than you do with your own family,” they said. Just to mention a few, the Gozales brothers, Joe Fannon and Robert Gutierrez, Sr.
Along with employees and former employees, the Watkins have developed close ties with the community. Johnson, Auto and Tractor Supply along with Darrell and Carolyn Beaver and Beaver Lumber Company. Gratefulness is the word that best describes their feelings. The feelings the Watkins feel for their fellow business owners and the feelings the fellow business owners have for them. Johnson Auto extends their congratulations for 50 years of business and have expressed that appreciation with an Ad in this week’s paper. Darrell and Carolyn Beaver as well as their ex employees of Beaver Lumber Company wishes to express their congratulations as well. Darrell said there were times when they would exchange fork lifts or help each other in various ways.
“All in all it’s been good,” the Watkins say. The business has been their life. However, they wouldn’t trade their lives and experiences for the world. “Maybe for a little extra money,” they joke. But not for the world.
The Chickasaw Arts Academy is taking applications for the 2022 summer session. This unique academy emphasizes Chickasaw and other Southeastern First American cultures and tribal aesthetics through the fine and performing arts. Applications can be found at Chickasaw.net/ArtsAcademy.
Applications must be submitted by May 25. Eligibility requires participants to be between the ages of 8-18 by July 9, Chickasaw or dependent of a Chickasaw citizen or previous attendee.
The Chickasaw Arts Academy is an intensive exploration of various artistic fields, career preparatory programming and student-oriented skill development. Participants gain experience in 2D and 3D visual art, culinary art, musical theater, dance, vocal music, instrumental music and composition, photography, theater technology, video production, fashion and accessory design, costume design, special effects and makeup, and much more.
2022 SUMMER SESSION
Students are divided into the following programs to accommodate specific ages and skill levels:
Starting Arts Rotation (STAR) (ages 8-10)
Orientation for students, parents and faculty is July 9. The academy begins July 11 and lasts through July 15. The one-week experience will culminate with an arts gala highlighting student work and a performing arts showcase Friday, July 15, at East Central University (ECU), located at 1100 E. 14th St., Ada, Oklahoma.
Academy activities for this age group take place during the day. Housing and transportation are not provided.
Intermediate (ages 11-13) and Majors (ages 14-18)
Orientation for students, parents and faculty is July 16. The academy begins July 18 and lasts through July 22. The summer session will conclude Friday, July 22, with an arts gala to share student work with visual art pieces, culinary creations and a showcase incorporating all of the performing arts disciplines into a final production at ECU.
Transportation is not provided. Intermediate academy sessions take place during the day.
Ages 14-18 may stay overnight on campus. Housing is provided for students ages 14-18. To attend the majors academy, students must be age 14 by July 16.
Attending the summer session of the academy is a prerequisite for the fall session, spring session and any additional session of the Chickasaw Arts Academy.
If accepted, students must be willing to commit to the entire length of the session. Students should have appropriate communications skills respective to their age, based on standard educational training.
To best serve the needs of students, please disclose any pertinent developmental and/or behavioral conditions so that accommodations or arrangements can be made prior to the academy.
For more information, contact the Chickasaw Nation Arts & Humanities office at (580) 272-5520 or email ArtsAcademy@Chickasaw.net.
On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, I personally delivered a book to each Oklahoma Legislator’s office called Shared Ideals in Public Schools: Enduring Values that Unite Parents and Educators. I outlined the book a year ago on a series of notecards in a meeting with my local legislators as a possible path to restore local control to public schools. Parents and local educators solve the toughest, most controversial of issues at the kid level every day, but kid-level issues can rarely be fixed by faraway strangers from Capital City or Washington D.C. Central planners do not necessarily have bad intentions; they are just too far away from the local realities.
For full disclosure, I produced this book at my own expense, and if it does somehow sell any copies, I have committed those funds to our local public school foundation. I wrote it because parents and local educators are being increasingly forced between two extreme options on a national level: a choice between progressive march toward Marxism or a progressive march toward Crony Capitalism. Nevertheless, such extreme national views do not represent the parents and educators I have worked with. One side seems to believe that big government knows better, while the other side seems to believe that big corporations know better. Meanwhile, both sides perpetuate the corporate testing structure to the detriment of learning, because both sides derive power from false metrics that offer little or no value at the kid level. Consequently, local parents and educators have less influence on a child’s education than the federal government.
Shared Ideals in Public Schools proposes that local parents and educators agree regarding local control, parental rights, faith-welcoming schools, safety and security, relevant and rigorous academics, adult-ready graduates, equal rights and equal opportunities, hidden agendas, transparency, and accountability. When operating within these principles, your local parents and educators successfully navigate the most difficult problems, but they do this at the kid-level, not because well-intentioned central planners came to the rescue.
I know parents and educators who are very ardent Democrats or Republicans, but their politics almost always fade at the kid-level. I do not know any educators who believe they know better than supportive parents, and I do not know any parents who believe their teachers are evil. They work together, even when they have differences, for the children they love. They take of their Cable News Goggles and do what is best for an individual child. Blanket decisions rarely work, but when we focus on individual children’s needs without endangering other students, local parents and educators can work miracles. We must give them the chance, however, and we will never do that as long as partisan extremists keep us focused on extreme examples.
We must first identify those enduring principles that unite us on the local level. We must also model the behavior we expect to see in our children. Unfortunately, national partisan forces create contrived division, and they demonize anyone who disagrees with them. Our children will never know true tolerance until we adults can disagree with civility. We can disagree without demonizing. We can tolerate someone else’s views without adopting them . . . or demanding they adopt ours.
Admittedly, I may be an arrogant fool, for self-delusion is rarely self-evident. Hopefully, this book reflects the hearts and minds of parents and educators currently voiceless in a shrill world of extreme megaphones. Shared Ideals in Public Schools will be free on Amazon Kindle from April 25 through April 29. That’s the longest they will let me make it free. If you live in Duncan, I have several free paperback copies available. (Of course, there may be a reason it is self-published!) May we soon rediscover the wisdom of local parents and educators in our state and nation.
Adam Brinson took office in April of 2019. Monday was his last official meeting as a commissioner.
When he started one of his goals was to keep from raising water rates. During the last three years the commission has only raised water rates one time and that was to keep up with the rate of inflation.
Since 2019 the citizens of Waurika passed a bond issue which allowed the Fire Department to purchase much needed safety equipment along with a ladder truck which will allow fire fighters to effectively access the roof tops of burning houses. Thankfully, their hasn’t been any house fires since the purchase of the truck. If a house fire does occur the department has the equipment they need to put it out quickly and safely.
Brinson says commissioners have worked hard to set aside enough money to survive emergencies. The accepted accounting goal is to have enough unrestricted cash to survive three years without any positive revenue. The city is well on its way to meet that goal. In the past there were times when the city had a hard time keeping its head above water.
He said some have asked him about the purchase of new police and city vehicles. He said the units purchased met state requirements and are safe. He also says the previous vehicles were costing more in repairs than they were worth, thus not being cost effective. For example, police vehicles are more expensive because of the required equipment which does not come standard.
The hiring of Kyote Dunn has been good for Waurika. Brinson says the commissioners interviewed many qualified candidates and thoughtfully considered each one before selecting Dunn. He says he has been impressed with Dunn’s diligence and professionalism.
Also, he says it has been encouraging to see how people have come together to improve Waurika.
A group of citizens wanted to use the Presbyterian church more often including the ministerial alliance. The problem was the lack of air conditioning. Thankfully an anonymous donations contributed to install the new units making it usable year around. Citizens can expect to see more functions take place in the beautiful Waurika landmark.
New parks and landscaping has been incredible. Craig Williams and his crew along with countless volunteers have done a tremendous job making Waurika look incredible. There are still more improvements to come as far as parks and recreation are concerned.
Waurika does not have a city council it has a city commission. Commissioners are not allowed to direct day to day operations. They don’t act individually, they act as one body. Brinson said he has learned much about city government while on the commission. The members along with citizens must all work together. He says citizens are encouraged to participate in public hearings and weekly meetings. If a citizen wants they can asked to be put on the agenda for the regular meeting or they can speak up during “citizen input” during any meeting. Those who attend meetings faithfully understand why and how decisions are made for the good of the community. No decisions are made without careful consideration.
Brinson is only leaving because of time restraints. He is now the pastor of two churches, here and in Ryan.
Brinson says it has been an honor to serve with the other commissioners. They have a great working relationship and each one is dedicated to doing what is right for Waurika.