http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgPeople prepare to float on the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in this 2011 photo. Ed Brocksmith, a Save the Illinois River volunteer, said he’s concerned about the phosphorus levels in the river. ARCHIVE
People prepare to float on the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in this 2011 photo. Ed Brocksmith, a Save the Illinois River volunteer, said he’s concerned about the phosphorus levels in the river. ARCHIVE

2 states’ river feud clearing up

The Illinois River Watershed flows from Arkansas into Oklahoma and includes a large part of the Cherokee Nation on the Oklahoma side. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
The Illinois River Watershed flows from Arkansas into Oklahoma and includes a large part of the Cherokee Nation on the Oklahoma side. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
01/05/2018 08:00 AM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Once an avid camper and canoeist, Ed Brocksmith no longer visits the Illinois River in east Oklahoma.

These days Brocksmith fishes for smallmouth bass and sand bass at Horseshoe Bend, located on the upper portion of Tenkiller Lake where the Illinois River drains into it. Decades ago, the water was so clear he could step 4 or 5 feet into the lake and still see his feet.

“That’s no longer the case,” said Brocksmith, 76, a secretary and treasurer with the volunteer group Save the Illinois River.

Brocksmith is concerned that phosphorus levels in the Illinois River will continue to contribute to the degradation of the lake and eventually threaten its bass population. He and others worry the lake eventually will become hospitable only to the “wrong” type of fish, like catfish.

“We want to catch those fish and not mudcats,” Brocksmith said.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the level of phosphorus in the Illinois River continues to consistently exceed Oklahoma’s state standard of 0.037 milligrams of phosphorus per liter, more than a decade after the state sued northwest Arkansas poultry companies for contributing the element to the river.

Such levels pose a threat to the well-being of the highly popular river, which each year draws about 500,000 visitors – including some 200,000 floaters – who spend an estimated $15 million, according to the Grand River Dam Authority, a branch of Oklahoma’s state government.

There are indications things are getting better.

The level of phosphorus is far lower than it used to be, from as high as an average of 0.423 milligram of phosphorus per liter in Watts, Oklahoma, in 1980 to 0.065 milligrams of phosphorus per liter in the same spot in 2016. Samples taken this fall from other parts of the river show levels ranging from 0.05 milligrams of phosphorus per liter to 0.09, according to Brian Haggard, director of the Arkansas Water Resources Center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Experts attribute the drop to farmers applying less poultry litter, which is rich in phosphorus, to the ground in northwest Arkansas and industries reducing the amount of phosphorus in their wastewater. The Illinois is one of several rivers across the country that the U.S. Geological Survey identifies with likely improving phosphorus levels.

The lower environmental footprint comes at a time when northwest Arkansas’ population has more than doubled to more than 500,000 people, according to census estimates.

“We’re making progress, but we still have a bit to go,” said Nicole Hardiman, executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, an Arkansas-based nonprofit formed in 2005 that focuses on voluntary means of reducing phosphorus in the river.

The amount of poultry litter applied to ground in the Illinois River’s northwest Arkansas watershed has dropped significantly at a time when the amount of litter being generated has increased, according to Arkansas Natural Resources Commission data analyzed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In the counties that contain portions of the watershed, the amount of poultry litter applied has dropped 30 percent, from 219,195 tons in 200 – the earliest year of data available – to 154,067 tons in 2016.

Several Arkansas counties in the region are subject to stricter regulation because of the dispute with Oklahoma. In those areas, collectively called the Nutrient Surplus Area, the amount of phosphorus that farmers can apply to land is limited and farmers must create nutrient management plans that detail what is applied. Farmers are not subject to those regulations elsewhere in the state, although the integrating poultry companies with which farmers contract may require a nutrient management plan as a part of their agreement.

The amount of applied poultry litter has decreased by 19 percent statewide and in 36 of the 58 counties that have reported nutrient application during at least a portion of that time period. Two counties – Lonoke in east-central Arkansas and Jackson in northeast Arkansas – have reported no application. The amount of applied poultry litter has increased in 20 counties.

Arkansas poultry farmers have been selling more poultry litter to farmers in other states, said Sheri Herron Scott, executive soil scientist for BMPs, a nonprofit that helps coordinate the sales.
Since poultry companies started the nonprofit in 2004, more than 1 million tons of litter have been moved out of the watershed, according to Caroline Ahn, a spokeswoman for Tyson Foods.
“Cooperative efforts between the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, along with regulatory programs and the efforts of the poultry industry have helped to make substantial improvements,” Ahn said in a written response to an interview request.

The amount of phosphorus from the Springdale wastewater utility also has dropped, said Heath Ward, executive director of Springdale Water Utilities. In fiscal 2001-02, the utility’s treated effluent contained on average 8.4 milligrams of phosphorus per liter. In fiscal 2016-17, it contained 0.24 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

That’s the product of cleaner wastewater from industries and millions of dollars spent on improving the utility’s treatment processes, Ward said.

The treatment is a five-part process that partially removes nutrients such as phosphorus from the wastewater. Called the Bardenpho process, it involves five tanks – anaerobic, anoxic, aerobic, anoxic (again) and aerobic (again) – that mix fluids and ultimately separate out nitrogen.

The Bardenpho process has resulted in a Rogers treatment plant producing one-tenth of the phosphorus produced previously, according to plant manager Todd Beaver. The discharge has less than 0.1 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

Fayetteville’s new Nowlin treatment plant also discharges at about that level.

Ward wants to improve the things the region is doing, but he also noted a project in Fayetteville that restored a few hundred feet of stream bank that kept between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds of phosphorus from finding its way into the Illinois.

He and others favor smaller projects that can make a big impact, such as stream bank restoration and stormwater management.

“That’s how you eat an elephant, too, is one bit at a time,” Ward said. “I’m just hopeful people want to try some new things.”

Ideas abound for how to continue the improvements, such as low-impact development, land conservation, regulatory changes and additional partnerships.

Low-impact development, Hardiman said, would employ ways to prevent dirty stormwater from running directly into storm drains.

Some cities have developed stormwater management plans as a part of Clean Water Act compliance, said Katie Teague, a Washington County extension agent. All will have to adopt them, she said.

Construction permit applicants in Fayetteville are required to manage stormwater in one of six different ways, Teague said. Those include outreach and education, management and prevention of pollution, and control of stormwater runoff.

That has led to pervious pavement at a Whataburger drive-thru on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Stormwater from the drive-thru travels underneath the pavement and into the soil, rather than running off, loaded with fuel and other substances, into a storm drain. Storm drains discharge directly into bodies of water.

Stream bank restoration projects and partnerships to complete them also interest different groups.

When stream banks erode, they drop sediment into the stream. In northwest Arkansas, that sediment often contains phosphorus from years of poultry litter being applied to the ground. So restoring stream banks can prevent the addition of more phosphorus making its way to the river.

A public-private partnership to restore the banks near Savoy, where several Illinois tributaries meet, would make a big difference, Hardiman said.

He also would like to find ways to encourage people to put their land into conservation easements and to finance the purchase of land to conserve, perhaps through a millage.

Oklahoma already has a program for land conservation, capturing more than 500 acres at the cost of $1 million to landowners for extended contracts, said Ed Fite, vice president of scenic rivers operations for the Grand River Dam Authority. A recent $500,000 grant will buy more land soon, he said.

Decisions are pending on other actions that could affect the river.

The lawsuit against poultry farmers hasn’t had a ruling, nearly eight years after the 50-day trial on it ended.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working with the two states on a total maximum daily load study for several years but has not completed one. It would determine the maximum amount of certain nutrients that can be introduced into a body of water.

The EPA did not make anyone available for an interview for this story.

A joint study committee recommended in December 2016 that the phosphorus limit be reduced further to 0.035 milligram per liter to protect the scenic nature of the river, but Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin have taken no action on the recommendation.

“We are working through the details with Oklahoma to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the independent study are fully implemented,” Hutchinson said in a statement issued to the Democrat-Gazette.

Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Fallin, said the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is working on a total maximum daily load study.

Cole Perryman, a spokesman for the board, said it has no plans to change the standard because it is not bound to do so unless the change is outside the range of 0.027 milligram of phosphorus per liter to 0.047 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

For Fite, approval of that standard is one of the three necessary things for improving the river, along with an approved total maximum daily load study and robust partnerships.

Brocksmith has similar desires, but at least he’s finally seeing clearer waters near Tenkiller Lake after years of work.

“The last few years the river seems to have improved,” he said.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Once an avid camper and canoeist, Ed Brocksmith no longer visits the Illinois River in east Oklahoma.

These days Brocksmith fishes for smallmouth bass and sand bass at Horseshoe Bend, located on the upper portion of Tenkiller Lake where the Illinois River drains into it. Decades ago, the water was so clear he could step 4 or 5 feet into the lake and still see his feet.

“That’s no longer the case,” said Brocksmith, 76, a secretary and treasurer with the volunteer group Save the Illinois River.

Brocksmith is concerned that phosphorus levels in the Illinois River will continue to contribute to the degradation of the lake and eventually threaten its bass population. He and others worry the lake eventually will become hospitable only to the “wrong” type of fish, like catfish.

“We want to catch those fish and not mudcats,” Brocksmith said.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the level of phosphorus in the Illinois River continues to consistently exceed Oklahoma’s state standard of 0.037 milligrams of phosphorus per liter, more than a decade after the state sued northwest Arkansas poultry companies for contributing the element to the river.

Such levels pose a threat to the well-being of the highly popular river, which each year draws about 500,000 visitors – including some 200,000 floaters – who spend an estimated $15 million, according to the Grand River Dam Authority, a branch of Oklahoma’s state government.

There are indications things are getting better.

The level of phosphorus is far lower than it used to be, from as high as an average of 0.423 milligram of phosphorus per liter in Watts, Oklahoma, in 1980 to 0.065 milligrams of phosphorus per liter in the same spot in 2016. Samples taken this fall from other parts of the river show levels ranging from 0.05 milligrams of phosphorus per liter to 0.09, according to Brian Haggard, director of the Arkansas Water Resources Center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Experts attribute the drop to farmers applying less poultry litter, which is rich in phosphorus, to the ground in northwest Arkansas and industries reducing the amount of phosphorus in their wastewater. The Illinois is one of several rivers across the country that the U.S. Geological Survey identifies with likely improving phosphorus levels.

The lower environmental footprint comes at a time when northwest Arkansas’ population has more than doubled to more than 500,000 people, according to census estimates.

“We’re making progress, but we still have a bit to go,” said Nicole Hardiman, executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, an Arkansas-based nonprofit formed in 2005 that focuses on voluntary means of reducing phosphorus in the river.

The amount of poultry litter applied to ground in the Illinois River’s northwest Arkansas watershed has dropped significantly at a time when the amount of litter being generated has increased, according to Arkansas Natural Resources Commission data analyzed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In the counties that contain portions of the watershed, the amount of poultry litter applied has dropped 30 percent, from 219,195 tons in 200 – the earliest year of data available – to 154,067 tons in 2016.

Several Arkansas counties in the region are subject to stricter regulation because of the dispute with Oklahoma. In those areas, collectively called the Nutrient Surplus Area, the amount of phosphorus that farmers can apply to land is limited and farmers must create nutrient management plans that detail what is applied. Farmers are not subject to those regulations elsewhere in the state, although the integrating poultry companies with which farmers contract may require a nutrient management plan as a part of their agreement.

The amount of applied poultry litter has decreased by 19 percent statewide and in 36 of the 58 counties that have reported nutrient application during at least a portion of that time period. Two counties – Lonoke in east-central Arkansas and Jackson in northeast Arkansas – have reported no application. The amount of applied poultry litter has increased in 20 counties.

Arkansas poultry farmers have been selling more poultry litter to farmers in other states, said Sheri Herron Scott, executive soil scientist for BMPs, a nonprofit that helps coordinate the sales.

Since poultry companies started the nonprofit in 2004, more than 1 million tons of litter have been moved out of the watershed, according to Caroline Ahn, a spokeswoman for Tyson Foods.

“Cooperative efforts between the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, along with regulatory programs and the efforts of the poultry industry have helped to make substantial improvements,” Ahn said in a written response to an interview request.

The amount of phosphorus from the Springdale wastewater utility also has dropped, said Heath Ward, executive director of Springdale Water Utilities. In fiscal 2001-02, the utility’s treated effluent contained on average 8.4 milligrams of phosphorus per liter. In fiscal 2016-17, it contained 0.24 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

That’s the product of cleaner wastewater from industries and millions of dollars spent on improving the utility’s treatment processes, Ward said.

The treatment is a five-part process that partially removes nutrients such as phosphorus from the wastewater. Called the Bardenpho process, it involves five tanks – anaerobic, anoxic, aerobic, anoxic (again) and aerobic (again) – that mix fluids and ultimately separate out nitrogen.

The Bardenpho process has resulted in a Rogers treatment plant producing one-tenth of the phosphorus produced previously, according to plant manager Todd Beaver. The discharge has less than 0.1 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

Fayetteville’s new Nowlin treatment plant also discharges at about that level.

Ward wants to improve the things the region is doing, but he also noted a project in Fayetteville that restored a few hundred feet of stream bank that kept between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds of phosphorus from finding its way into the Illinois.

He and others favor smaller projects that can make a big impact, such as stream bank restoration and stormwater management.

“That’s how you eat an elephant, too, is one bit at a time,” Ward said. “I’m just hopeful people want to try some new things.”

Ideas abound for how to continue the improvements, such as low-impact development, land conservation, regulatory changes and additional partnerships.

Low-impact development, Hardiman said, would employ ways to prevent dirty stormwater from running directly into storm drains.

Some cities have developed stormwater management plans as a part of Clean Water Act compliance, said Katie Teague, a Washington County extension agent. All will have to adopt them, she said.

Construction permit applicants in Fayetteville are required to manage stormwater in one of six different ways, Teague said. Those include outreach and education, management and prevention of pollution, and control of stormwater runoff.

That has led to pervious pavement at a Whataburger drive-thru on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Stormwater from the drive-thru travels underneath the pavement and into the soil, rather than running off, loaded with fuel and other substances, into a storm drain. Storm drains discharge directly into bodies of water.

Stream bank restoration projects and partnerships to complete them also interest different groups.

When stream banks erode, they drop sediment into the stream. In northwest Arkansas, that sediment often contains phosphorus from years of poultry litter being applied to the ground. So restoring stream banks can prevent the addition of more phosphorus making its way to the river.

A public-private partnership to restore the banks near Savoy, where several Illinois tributaries meet, would make a big difference, Hardiman said.

He also would like to find ways to encourage people to put their land into conservation easements and to finance the purchase of land to conserve, perhaps through a millage.

Oklahoma already has a program for land conservation, capturing more than 500 acres at the cost of $1 million to landowners for extended contracts, said Ed Fite, vice president of scenic rivers operations for the Grand River Dam Authority. A recent $500,000 grant will buy more land soon, he said.

Decisions are pending on other actions that could affect the river.

The lawsuit against poultry farmers hasn’t had a ruling, nearly eight years after the 50-day trial on it ended.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working with the two states on a total maximum daily load study for several years but has not completed one. It would determine the maximum amount of certain nutrients that can be introduced into a body of water.

The EPA did not make anyone available for an interview for this story.

A joint study committee recommended in December 2016 that the phosphorus limit be reduced further to 0.035 milligram per liter to protect the scenic nature of the river, but Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin have taken no action on the recommendation.

“We are working through the details with Oklahoma to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the independent study are fully implemented,” Hutchinson said in a statement issued to the Democrat-Gazette.

Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Fallin, said the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is working on a total maximum daily load study.

Cole Perryman, a spokesman for the board, said it has no plans to change the standard because it is not bound to do so unless the change is outside the range of 0.027 milligram of phosphorus per liter to 0.047 milligram of phosphorus per liter.

For Fite, approval of that standard is one of the three necessary things for improving the river, along with an approved total maximum daily load study and robust partnerships.

Brocksmith has similar desires, but at least he’s finally seeing clearer waters near Tenkiller Lake after years of work.

“The last few years the river seems to have improved,” he said.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/15/2018 02:00 PM
TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) — Activists in Oklahoma are looking to entrench the right to use marijuana in the state's constitution by promoting a pair of ballot measures. The Tulsa World reports that the first state question would classify marijuana as an "herbal drug" and amend the Oklahoma Constitution. The other initiative says a person 21 years or older can possess or consume up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. Both were filed in April. Voters in Oklahoma backed the medicinal use of the drug last month. Yet, Isaac Caviness with Green the Vote says the two state questions being promoted are an "insurance policy" to make sure State Question 788 is not over regulated.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/15/2018 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma's 4.0 earthquakes are up significantly this year, but the overall rate of earthquakes is declining. Oklahoma has had six quakes of at least magnitude 4.0 halfway through this year, which is one more than all of last year. But the overall rate of earthquakes has declined, with 96 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater through June 30, compared with 144 at this point last year and 302 by the end of 2017, the Tulsa World reported. A magnitude 4.6 in April near Perry was the 12th largest in state history. Scientists are largely seeing earthquakes on unmapped faults that were activated in 2014 by wastewater injection, said state seismologist Jake Walter. Scientists are researching specific mechanisms by which the state's ongoing seismicity is triggered, he said. Wastewater can trigger the initial earthquakes, but quakes themselves can lead to more quakes. "So in some ways the wastewater injection has created a new paradigm that defies how we would categorize main shocks and aftershocks if this were a fault that had slipped in a more natural setting," he said. Walter said that Oklahoma's seismic risk appears to be similar to the latest hazard forecast put out by the U.S. Geological Survey in March. The agency calculated Oklahoma's short-term hazard levels to be similar to active regions in California. The chance of earthquake damage in high-hazard areas of Oklahoma this year ranges from 1 percent to 14 percent, "much higher" than most parts of the U.S.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/14/2018 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Civil lawsuits have been filed in two Oklahoma counties accusing state health officials of improperly imposing strict rules on the state's recently approved medical marijuana industry. Separate lawsuits were filed Friday in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties over the policies that were adopted this week by the State Board of Health and then quickly approved by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. The board of Fallin appointees voted 5-4 on Tuesday to approve a ban on the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring pharmacists at dispensaries, infuriating activists who had worked for years to get medical marijuana on the ballot. The measure passed June 26 with nearly 57 percent of the vote. Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates said July 10 his office anticipated legal challenges and was prepared to defend the new rules.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/12/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Nearly 500 representatives of the 25 at-large and 88 in-jurisdiction Cherokee organizations recently traveled to Tahlequah for the Cherokee Nation’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders. The two-day conference hosted by the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach was held June 22-23 at Northeastern State University. Attendees attended workshops led by experts in sustainability and culture, and also met with tribal leaders, including Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilors. The tribe concluded the conference with the Community Impact Awards banquet, which honors community organizations that do outstanding volunteer work, promote the culture and make other significant contributions. “The community organizations, both in the 14 counties and at-large, are some of the tribe’s most valuable partners, because they allow us to reach and help our citizens more effectively and efficiently,” Hoskin said. “Whether it’s mentoring youth or offering cultural enrichment programs or providing housing through temporary shelters, these groups define the values of community and family that are important to us as Cherokee people, and that is something to be commended and recognized.” Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas, an official at-large Cherokee Nation organization based in Houston, was honored with the 2018 Organization of the Year award. After Hurricane Harvey struck the organization’s community, members stepped up to help neighbors recover from the flooding and coordinated efforts to take donations to those in need. The organization also received the Strong Hands Award for its efforts after Hurricane Harvey. “We were all surprised and humbled to be recognized for our work following Hurricane Harvey,” Wade McAlister, Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas president, said. “We were just doing what we do. It was a team effort and exemplifies both the Cherokee ethic of gadugi and the Houston can do spirit.”?? Boys & Girls Club of Adair County received the Youth Leadership Award at the Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach conference. The nonprofit organization maintains in school, after school and summer programs for the youth of Adair County. “Boys & Girls Clubs of Adair County is based on inspiring and enabling youth to realize their full potential,” Kristal Diver, Boys & Girls Club of Adair County CEO, said. “Receiving the Youth Leadership Award is a great honor and has shown us that we are moving in the right direction. The continuous support of Cherokee Nation has made it possible for us to provide a safe, positive place with fun and engaging activities, supportive relationships with adults and opportunities for our youth.” <strong>Other organizations honored with Community Impact Awards were:</strong> Newcomer of the Year Award – Northern Cherokee County Community Booster Club Newcomer of the Year Award – Illinois River Area Community Organization Mary Mead Volunteerism Award – Native American Fellowship Inc. Mary Mead Volunteerism Award – Greater Wichita Area Cherokees Most Improved Award – Marble City Activity Organization Best in Technology Award – Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club Best in Technology At-Large – San Diego Cherokee Community Continuing Education Award – Spavinaw Youth and Neighborhood Center Hunger Fighters Award – Tailholt Community Organization Roy Hamilton Historical Preservation Award – Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association Roy Hamilton Historical Preservation Award – Mt Hood Cherokees Strong Hands Award – Mid County Community Organization Strong Hands Award – Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas Grant Writer of the Year Award – Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association Technical Assistance Award – Cherokee National Historical Society Best in Reporting Award – Stilwell Public Library Friends Society Best in Reporting At-Large – Kansas City Cherokee Community Community Partnership Award – Tailholt Community Organization Community Partnership At-Large – San Antonio Cherokee Township Community Inspiration Award – Noweta Cherokee Community Foundation Community Inspiration Award – New Mexico Cherokee Community Cultural Perpetuation Award – Washington County Cherokee Organization Cultural Perpetuation At-Large – Cherokees of the Northern Central Valley Donna Chuculate Cemetery Preservation Award – Webbers Falls Historical Society Museum Donna Chuculate Cemetery Preservation Award – Cherokees of the Northern Central Valley Youth Leadership Award – Boys & Girls Club of Adair County Youth Leadership At-Large – Valley of the Sun Cherokees Conference Attendance Award – Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation Conference Attendance Award – San Antonio Cherokee Township Above & Beyond Award – Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation Above & Beyond Award – Capital City Cherokee Community Community Leadership Award – Orchard Road Community Outreach Community Leadership At-Large – Cherokee Society of Greater Bay Area Lifetime Achievement Award – Gary Bolin (Brushy Cherokee Action Association) Lifetime Achievement Award – Dude Feathers (Oakhill Piney Community Organization) Organization of the Year Award – Mid County Community Organization Organization of the Year At-Large – Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas Sponsor Award – Cherokee Nation Businesses
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/11/2018 04:00 PM
VINITIA – Less than three months after the U.S. Surgeon General released a public health advisory urging more Americans to carry a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, Vinita firefighters used that medication, naloxone, to save a life. In June, Vinita firefighters responded to a call about a female who had chewed a fentanyl patch. Vinita Fire Chief Kevin Wofford said when they arrived at the scene, firefighters found the patient unresponsive. After obtaining baseline vitals, they administered one dose of Narcan nasal spray, which is a brand name for naloxone. Within minutes, Wofford said, the ambulance arrived and the EMTs helped the patient into the ambulance where her symptoms abated. “In about three minutes after they had administered the Narcan, she was becoming more responsive and they got a reversal,” Wofford said. Wofford said the Narcan nasal spray for helping save this patient and describes the medication as being “a big help” to area first responders as they deal with the growing crisis of opioid overdose deaths. The Narcan nasal spray used in the June rescue was supplied to the Vinita Fire Department during a naloxone training hosted by in part by Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs earlier this year. On Feb. 27, 100 representatives from Craig County area law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services, as well as school administrators, teachers and coaches received naloxone training and were given free naloxone kits to use in emergency overdose situations. The training and naloxone kits were supplied by Behavioral Health, which received a $1 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of the First Responder Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. “The first part of the grant is to get all ‘traditional’ first responders — police, fire departments, EMS — trained and supplied throughout the 14 counties of Cherokee Nation,” Sam Bradshaw, Behavioral Health Prevention Programs manager, said. “Once we’ve done that, then we’ll come back around and offer the training and naloxone kits to ‘nontraditional’ first responders — doctor’s offices, nurses and other people in the community.” Due to grant requirements, first responders can only receive the naloxone kits from CN if they undergo training. To date, naloxone trainings have been held in 12 CN counties and will soon be presented in the last two. Bradshaw said he hopes to be able to offer the ‘nontraditional’ first responder training toward the end of the year. Anyone interested in attending a naloxone training and obtaining kits should call 918-276-2192. “We will resupply naloxone kits that have been used,” Bradshaw said. “To get the replacement kits, first responders must fill out a form, which allows us to collect the data we need for the grant. They can fill out the form they were given with the naloxone kits or contact Grand Nation, which has the forms and will help them get the form filled out correctly so we can get more kits to the first responders who need them.” Naloxone kits that aren’t used may also need to be resupplied, Bradshaw said. “This is a four-year grant and, hopefully, not all of the kits will be needed,” said Bradshaw. “But even those who don’t ever use it, need to be aware that these kits will expire. So we’ll resupply if they’ve expired.” While the naloxone training focuses on dealing with the consequences of opioid addiction, Behavioral Health Prevention Programs is also working to reduce prescription drug-related harm and increase awareness of the opioid epidemic. To learn more, visit the ThinkSMART Oklahoma Facebook page or <a href="http://www.ThinkSMARTok.org" target="_blank">www.ThinkSMARTok.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/11/2018 12:00 PM
NORMAN – The Native American Journalists Association announced the winners of its 2018 National Native Media Awards and the Cherokee Phoenix won four awards, which includes its ninth first place General Excellence award for a print publication. The annual competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Native and non-Native journalists across the United States and Canada. In addition to the General Excellence honor, the Cherokee Phoenix took first place in the Best Layout – Print category and Best TV Feature Story with former Reporter Stacie Guthrie’s “Remember the Removal” video, which can be viewed at <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/11330" target="_blank">http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/11330</a>. Former Reporter Brittney Bennett won a third place award in the Print/Online – Best Health Coverage category with her “CN health providers want higher base pay” story, which can be read at <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/11450" target="_blank">http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/11450</a>. “As the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix I am beyond pleased and honored anytime we receive recognition from our peers,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Everyone on our staff takes our role in keeping the Cherokee people informed to heart. I would personally like to thank everyone on the Cherokee Phoenix staff for all their hard work, and the members of the Native American Journalist Association for recognizing our dedication to providing thorough and prompt news coverage to our tribe nationwide.” Cherokee Phoenix staff members will have an opportunity to collect their hardware during a banquet at NAJA’s annual conference on July 18-21 in Miami, Florida. With the exception of 2011-13, the Cherokee Phoenix has entered the NAJA awards every year since 2001 and has won 99 total awards, including the prestigious Richard LaCourse Award for investigative journalism in 2003 and the Elias Boudinot Award in 2001 for becoming an independent news organization. Overall, the Cherokee Phoenix has won 32 first place, 37 second place, 21 third place and nine honorable mention NAJA awards.