http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgFront row from left to right are Spring Valley Fire Department representatives Lillian Gamble, Janette Smith and April Cole. In the back row are Spring Valley representatives Gordon Gamble, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Spring Valley Fire Chief Ronnie Smith, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Spring Valley representatives David Cole and Eli Cole, Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan and Spring Valley representatives Rick Lamons and Delbert Wilson. The Cherokee Nation donated $458,500 to 131 rural volunteer fire departments on May 8 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. COURTESY
Front row from left to right are Spring Valley Fire Department representatives Lillian Gamble, Janette Smith and April Cole. In the back row are Spring Valley representatives Gordon Gamble, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Spring Valley Fire Chief Ronnie Smith, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Spring Valley representatives David Cole and Eli Cole, Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan and Spring Valley representatives Rick Lamons and Delbert Wilson. The Cherokee Nation donated $458,500 to 131 rural volunteer fire departments on May 8 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. COURTESY

CN donates nearly $500K to volunteer fire departments

05/10/2017 12:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation donated nearly half a million dollars on May 8 night to 131 rural volunteer fire departments during the tribe’s annual Volunteer Firefighter Ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Each year rural volunteer fire departments located within the tribe’s jurisdiction rely on fundraisers and membership dues to maintain operations.

According to a CN press release, to honor those departments the tribe donated each station a check for $3,500 to help with equipment, fuel or other items needed to protect lives and properties in northeastern Oklahoma.

Officials said the $458,500 overall donation was a record amount and was included in the tribe’s annual budget.

“I believe the men and women who answer the call to be a firefighter deserve Cherokee Nation’s thanks and support. They are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to ensure we remain safe,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “What they do is vital to our overall success in northeast Oklahoma. That’s why year after year, Cherokee Nation makes financial investments in rural volunteer fire departments so they can be better equipped to protect our families, our homes and our property.”

Spring Valley Fire Department in Cherokee County and Disney Fire Department in Mayes County were recognized as 2017 Volunteer Fire Departments of the Year.

The Spring Valley Fire Department protects more than 7,800 residents in a 77-square-mile area and in the past year responded to about 150 calls in the community as well as neighboring Hulbert, Taylor Ferry, Gideon and Peggs. It also responded to calls outside of Cherokee County.

Spring Valley’s volunteers also provide emergency responses for water rescue, search-and-rescue and fire investigations.

“Cherokee Nation’s donation allows us to buy equipment that we need, like hoses, nozzles and tires,” Spring Valley Fire Chief Ronnie Smith said. “It takes a lot of money to operate a volunteer fire department, and we don’t have a lot of money. When you start buying fuel and insurance, it all adds up, and I appreciate everything the Cherokee Nation does for all volunteer fire departments.”

The Disney Fire Department’s firefighters often find themselves maneuvering through trails and over rocks in the Grand Lake area to reach victims of rollover crashes that occur during popular rock-crawling events. Efforts of the department’s volunteers have helped save the lives of many, including victims who were in serious or critical condition and required medical helicopters once they had been rescued by Disney firefighters.

The department has 14 active volunteers.

“We really appreciate Cherokee Nation’s help. It helps us out a lot,” Disney Fire Chief Larry Sanders said. “We’re probably going to use the funding to build a training facility.”

The CN also selected five recipients for the 2017 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year awards:

• Allison Paige Long, of Langley, for saving the life of a boy involved in a head-on car crash in August. Long and her family drove upon the crash on Spavinaw Hill. She climbed into a crushed car and found a 12-year-old who was in the backseat and not breathing. Long, a Langley volunteer firefighter since 2010, cleared the boy’s airway, controlled his bleeding and stayed in the car until he was freed. The teen is paralyzed from the waist down but survived because of Long’s training and response. ?

• Sean Goodwin, of Wagoner, for responding to a call with the Whitehorn Fire Department and reviving a child thought to have drowned in a lake. Goodwin relied on his training as a first responder and was able to save the child’s life.

• David Riggs, of Muldrow, for serving more than 17 years as fire chief for the Maple Fire Department. Riggs helped establish the department in 1995 and often used his own property to ensure firefighters had the equipment necessary to respond to calls. Even after stepping down as chief, Riggs responds to nearly every call during the day, often alone. ?

• Chrix Hoxit, of Muldrow, for his commitment to the Brushy Fire Department. Hoxit established the “Ready, Set, Go” program to help the elderly be fire-safe. He also obtained grants for equipment and set up a program to help raise money for the Brushy Fire Department. Hoxit also works to keep firefighters hydrated and fed while they are fighting fires and networks with CN Risk Management.?

• Jim Huyck, of Cookson, who donates 40 to 60 hours per week between the Cookson and Chicken Creek fire departments. Huyck helps firefighters stay trained on emerging medical services, allowing the departments to respond to medical calls. Recently, Huyck taught two classes on medical response. His training allows firefighters to save the lives of others.


05/22/2017 04:45 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A new Oklahoma law cracks down on protesters who trespass and anyone who financially supports them. The Journal Record reports Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation that will punish any person or organization affiliated with protests that result in property damage. Fallin approved a similar bill earlier this month that imposes steep fines or prison time against people convicted of trespassing at a critical infrastructure facility to impede operations. The author of the bills, Rep. Mark McBride, says the idea came after the protests along the Dakota Access Pipeline. The American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma voiced concerns of such laws, noting property damage is already illegal and further legislation would likely serve as intimidators. The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association supported the measure, saying those who damage property should be held accountable.
05/22/2017 11:45 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Construction crews have finished renovations of Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs as the casino and race track welcomes gaming and horse racing fans alike for a better entertainment experience. According to a Cherokee Nation press release, renovations include an upgraded dance floor and entertainment venue, an improved bar, new gaming floor and simulcast area, as well as redone banquet space. Approximatley$5 million was invested to make 43,000 square feet of renovations, the release states. According to a 2016 story, the renovation was slated for completion by April 2017 and was estimated to cost $3.5 million. “The feedback we’ve received from our guests made the investment worth it,” WRD General Manager Rusty Stamps said. “The upgrades offer a high-quality experience for new guests, while our loyal customer base is overjoyed with the improvements to their favorite horse racing facility.” It also states the gaming floor offers 250 electronic games in a new location on the casino’s south side. The new layout offers a more cohesive gaming experience for guests and has created the opportunity to introduce some game variety, the release states. The simulcast viewing area has also been relocated to the casino’s northwest corner and features large screen TVs and seating for more than 100 racing fans, the release states. The Horseshoe banquet space can accommodate 150 additional race fans during major events such as the recent Kentucky Derby, the release states. It adds that the indoor paddock observation area is just off the new simulcast room and offers a VIP view to the paddock area. The Dog Iron Grill also now features two seating areas with room for nearly 90 patrons near the casino’s main entrance, according to the release. “At Cherokee Nation Entertainment, we always strive to uphold our position as the market leader for gaming and entertainment,” Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said. “We feel this upgrade streamlines our racing facility with our other casinos and gives it the look and experience our guests have come to appreciate from our brand.” Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20, opened in 2005. It features six months of live horse racing with spring thoroughbred and fall quarter horse meets. Simulcast racing from around the world is broadcast year round inside the casino.
05/19/2017 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials on May 15 donated $195,000 to eight Boys & Girls Club programs throughout northeastern Oklahoma. Funding recipients included clubs in Washington, Delaware, Sequoyah, Rogers, Nowata, Cherokee, Mayes and Adair counties. Funding was based on the number of Native American students in each program. The eight area programs serve more than 11,000 students, with nearly 60 percent being Native American. According to a press release, the CN donated to the following Boys & Girls Clubs: • Bartlesville with a 1,021 enrollment at $5,299.09, • Delaware County with a 746 enrollment at $14,348.49, • Sequoyah County with a 1,746 enrollment at $20,789.10, • Chelsea with a 402 enrollment at $7,363.84, • Nowata with a 912 enrollment at $18,098.15, • Tahlequah with a 4,194 enrollment at $80,666.98, • Green Country-Pryor with a 376 enrollment at $4,591.71, and • Adair County with a 1,751 enrollment at $43,835.58. “Investing in the Boys & Girls Club is a collaboration that benefits Cherokee Nation’s most precious resource, our youth. We proudly support the work of local clubs within our communities because it benefits kids, families, local schools and overall community health," Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This is an opportunity to provide mentors and create positive, lifelong influences for Cherokees. Our youth deserve everything we can do for them, so they can fully grow into their God-given potential.” Since 2008, the CN has given more than $2 million to help Boys & Girls Club programs in the tribe’s jurisdiction. “The Boys & Girls Club units in the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation provide a service beyond measure,” Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd said. “These clubs help so many Cherokee kids who otherwise might not have any solid direction or activity after school. I'm proud we're able to contribute to such a worthy cause. The clubs are often a godsend to our working parents, as they help youth with tutoring, as well as involving them in organized sports, art and cultural pursuits.” Adair County’s program oversees clubs at Stilwell, Rocky Mountain, Maryetta and Zion schools. More than 80 percent of Boys & Girls Club participants from the four schools are Native American. “To be honest, it would be hard for us to keep our doors open without the assistance of Cherokee Nation,” Dan Collins, Adair County Boys & Girls Club board president, said. “This is going to help tremendously.” Kristal Diver, Adair County Boys & Girls Club chief professional officer, said the Nation’s donation would be used to cover overhead costs of the program, including the purchase of supplies for summer school activities, which aren’t covered by other funding sources. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America serves more than 4 million youth in the United States and on military bases across the world.
05/18/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next meeting of the Tahlequah Writers group is 2 p.m., May 20 at the Cherokee Arts Center multi-purpose room at 212 S. Water St. Monthly Tahlequah Writers meetings are casual and involve news of interest to writers and updates on what attendees are writing. Attendees include poets, fiction writers, historians, essayists, humorists, playwrights and scriptwriters. Participants discuss the art of writing as well as the business of publishing and promotion. The public is invited. Area writers are encouraged to bring their works to the meeting to be critiqued. Tahlequah Writers organizer Karen Cooper is asking members to bring ideas about structuring the group so that it continues after she moves to Florida soon. Cooper also announced some Tahlequah Writers members would be reading poetry at 11 a.m., May 27 at the Wagoner Arts Alliance in Wagoner. For more information about the Tahlequah Writers group, call Cooper at 918-207-0093 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>. People can also visit Tahlequah Writers on Facebook.
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05/17/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare on May 16 hosted a “Carry On Foster Care Walk” at One Fire Field west of the Tribal Complex to raise awareness for foster care and the need for foster care homes in the CN. Bags and backpacks also were gathered for children to allow them to have a proper way to carry their clothing as they move from home to foster care and possibly back home. “We appreciate everyone coming out to this walk. The bags will go to our children. Once they come into our care...if they return home or if they have to change foster homes for any reason we want them to be able to move with a bag of their own with their name so they’re not using a trash bag,” CN ICW Executive Director Nikki Baker Limore said. She said during Foster Care Awareness Month in May the focus was on foster care families and the Cherokee children in need of foster care homes. “We need to instill in these children that they are important and that we love and care for them, and I think that bags are the first way to show them, ‘we’re going to get you from place to place, and we’re going to take good care of you.’ And ‘we’re going to try to fix your home life, and if we can’t, we’re going to find a home for you,’” Baker Limore said. She added that ICW is 120 employees “strong,” has five office locations within the CN and has child welfare cases in nearly every state in the United States. There are currently about 80 children in ICW’s care, she said. ICW Assistant Sally Wilson said ICW has about 45 foster care homes and is working on the cases of about 1,400 children throughout the United States. “We have about 700 (children) here in the state of Oklahoma. The rest are out of state. We have a great need for homes,” Wilson said. Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the measure of a nation is how it cares for the most vulnerable of its citizens. For the CN that includes what is done by ICW for Cherokee children and foster families, he said. “If you measure a nation by what we do in Indian Child Welfare and our commitment of foster care, then the Cherokee Nation is a strong nation, and we’re getting stronger,” Hoskin said. Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden read a proclamation at the event for Foster Care Awareness Month that stated, in part, “within the Cherokee Nation and throughout the United States, there are more than 1,600 Cherokee children and youth in temporary care...and deserve a safe, secure and stable home along with the compassion and nurture of a permanent family and home.” The proclamation also states in the past two years the number of foster homes for Cherokee children has grown from 17 homes to 46, however, the need for more Cherokee foster families is still significant. If interested in becoming a foster parent, call 918-458-6900.
05/16/2017 04:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Spend the afternoon outdoors enjoying live gospel performances at the 18th annual Gospel Sing on May 20 at Cherokee Heritage Center. Performances from families, friends, churches and gospel groups will begin at 1 p.m. The free event is open to the public, and guests are encouraged to bring chairs. The Gospel Sing concludes at 6 p.m. with a hog fry dinner sponsored by Ron and Vivian Cottrell, Sequoyah Trails and the Oklahoma Pork Council. For more information, call Becky Adair at 918-456-6007 ext. 6160. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.