http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe Dog Iron Saloon inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs possesses a modern and rustic look after the casino underwent renovations completed in 2017. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Dog Iron Saloon inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs possesses a modern and rustic look after the casino underwent renovations completed in 2017. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Will Rogers Downs patrons enjoying renovations

The simulcast area inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs now features 100 simulcast screens after renovations. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The gaming floor inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs were also upgraded during renovations. The casino contains 250 electronic gaming machines. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The simulcast area inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs now features 100 simulcast screens after renovations. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
02/27/2018 08:15 AM
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CLAREMORE – Guests at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs are enjoying the improved facility since the completion of renovations in 2017.

Billy Spradlin, WRD operations manager, said the renovations were something the property “sorely” needed.

“We are one of the older properties. We were kind of outdated on a lot of what we had. The community really needed a fresh face out here, as well as the employees,” he said.

The Cherokee Nation purchased the property in 2004 and opened the facility in 2005 as one of only three racehorse tracks in Oklahoma. WRD offers six months of live horse racing, including quarter horse racing from September through November and thoroughbred racing from March through May. It also offers daily simulcast racing broadcasted year-round from horse tracks around the world.

Beginning in August 2016, approximately $5 million in improvements were started to the 43,000-square-foot facility, including an upgraded dance floor and entertainment venue, an improved bar and restaurant, new gaming floor and simulcast area, as well as a revamped banquet and convention space.

Although the facility received updated amenities, the appearance throughout the facility has a rustic country and western feel, fitting for a horse-racing casino.

“The renovation for everybody was a win-win. Not only did the employees get to benefit from working in a place they can take pride in, the renovation for the community was huge because they have a place to go to and place to go to that they can be proud of,” he said.

Aside from its 250 electronic gaming floor and 100 simulcast TV screens, Spradlin said guests enjoy the nearly 90 seats available at the Dog Iron Grill, as well as a large dance floor with live bands.

“We have a huge dance floor, probably one of the better ones in Claremore and in the surrounding areas. If you’re here on a Wednesday or Friday or Saturday the dance floor is completely full. Wednesday is one of our senior nights where everybody comes out. It’s completely full. It really is a whole different atmosphere on Wednesday,” he said.

In addition to the casino, WRD offers a Kamp Grounds of America camping area, which features 400 RV hook-ups and a RV guest clubhouse. They also offer special events such as Kentucky Derby in May and lawnmower racing in March.

“We continue to succeed not only in the gaming industry but the entertainment and horseracing industry as well,” Spradlin said.

WRD’s thoroughbred horseracing season will begin March 12. It is located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit or call 918-283-8800.


Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
03/20/2018 02:30 PM
INOLA – Cherokee Nation leaders joined Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, along with state, county and civic leaders, in welcoming Sofidel CEO and President Luigi Lazzareschi for a March 6 groundbreaking of the Italian-based paper company’s $360-million-dollar plant. The plant is expected to support 300 jobs initially. “This is going to be a big investment with a lot of technology,” Lazzareschi said. “For those who don’t know, this is a family only dedicated to tissues. We have never been in any other business than tissue for more than 50 years.” He said when completed the plant would be about 2 million square feet, which is 5 percent larger than the largest Sofidel plant in Ohio. Fallin called the announcement and groundbreaking a great day in Oklahoma. She said she traveled to Sofidel’s Italian headquarters two years ago. Once there, Fallin said she knew she had found a great opportunity for, Inola, Rogers County, Tulsa and the northeast region of the state. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he would normally welcome everyone to the CN, but the groundbreaking was held in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s jurisdiction. He said the CN was “within shooting distance” from where he was standing. He also informed Lazzareschi that assistance would be coming from CN Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelly. As for Cherokee Nation’s involvement with the Sofidel plant, much is still in the planning phase, CN officials said. Although after the groundbreaking, CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the Sofidel plant site is significant. Sofidel will build on the same site where 40 years ago Public Service Company of Oklahoma proposed building a nuclear energy facility. One of the reasons it was never built is because Native American activists, including many Cherokees, protested against it, he said. PSO has retained ownership of the property, which has remained vacant and undeveloped despite its location on the Kerr Navigation Channel and proximity to the Port of Catoosa, the furthest inland port and one of the busiest ports in the United States. “We routinely work with our state, regional and local partners to find opportunities that best suit all involved, and this was a location that worked best for everyone. About 40,000 Cherokee Nation citizens live within 20 miles of this facility, and when you look at a 25-mile radius, the number of Cherokee Nation citizens grows to more than 57,000,” Hoskin said. “The location is just a couple of miles outside of our (CN) boundaries, and our own Career Services department will help recruit the workforce for Sofidel. Because of that we believe Cherokee Nation citizens will be among the first hired.” Sofidel is one of the leading makers of hygienic tissue paper with locations in 13 countries. It places an emphasis on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. “We believe our mission alignment and the number of jobs and opportunities they will provide make them an extremely valuable partner in our economic development goals, which are to help make northeast Oklahoma an attractive place to live, work and raise a family,” Hoskin said.
03/20/2018 08:00 AM
MUSKOGEE – To kick off Season 4 of “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,” three public screening events were held featuring highlights from the upcoming season. The screenings were March 13 in Muskogee, March 14 in Tulsa and March 15 in Oklahoma City. “We felt like since we took the time off and we have been showing reruns, and since everyone has kind of been subject to these reruns, and we have had a lot of people say ‘when are you going to have new stuff?’ we wanted to make a splash and kind of reward everyone for that time they had to sit and wait for a new episode, and we wanted to let everyone know Season 4 is here,” Jennifer Loren, host and executive producer, said. At the screenings, guests had the opportunity to meet with Loren, Cherokee Nation dignitaries and the show’s creators, directors and producers. The directors and producers also held Q&A sessions. In the screenings, guests could view a director’s cut episode featuring CN citizens Brad Eubanks, Martha Berry and Crosslin Smith, as well as the Cherokee significance to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and a segment on the state of Sequoyah. Eubanks, also known as “Fuel,” is the co-owner and star of United Wrestling Entertainment, a nonprofit entertainment wrestling company based in Tahlequah. He said having OsiyoTV tell his story behind UWE and what it does was an honor. “They highlight Cherokee Nation and all of our people, and for them to think of me and to see what we do was amazing,” he said. “They were really interested in it (UWE) and how it ties into my life, as well as learning about the history of the company and learning about me and what drove this Cherokee kid from Tahlequah to become a pro wrestler. After watching that, it drove me to tears, good tears, it was amazing how they put it together, and it was an amazing tribute to my life and a tribute to my grandma.” Loren said this season viewers would see a change. Instead of hosting the show in various places, Loren will host the show in a historical site that will be featured in the “Almanac” segment in that episode with the significance to that site explained. She said the language lesson segment “Let’s Talk Cherokee” would be geared toward basic-level Cherokee for beginning speakers. The show will also be introducing the Cherokee syllabary and teaching words that begin with each syllable. “We are always looking back at seasons past, and we try to improve upon every aspect of the show. But overall I feel like people are going to see a difference in the amount of time we were able to spend with everybody and tell their stories more completely than we have,” she said. Loren said another goal is to become better storytellers for elders. “We do have a good mix of stories on elders in every season, but I think the more we do those stories, the more we realize exactly how important it is to be getting those stories and to be sharing those stories.” The show was slated to premier March 25. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. <strong>OsiyoTV Show Times</strong> <strong>Oklahoma (Statewide):</strong> OETA (PBS) at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays <strong>Tulsa:</strong> RSU-TV at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and at 9 a.m. on Sundays <strong>Fayetteville and Fort Smith (Arkansas):</strong> KHBS/KHOG (ABC) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays <strong>Joplin (Missouri):</strong> KSN (NBC) at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays KODE (ABC) at 9 a.m. on Sundays
03/19/2018 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions was recently awarded a $21 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s Viral Disease Branch. During the next five years, CNTS will provide scientific and technical support for infectious disease research. “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to continue our support of the WRAIR Viral Disease Branch and its very important mission of protecting and sustaining the health of the U.S. military,” John Hansen, CNTS operations general manager, said. “CNTS’ professionals, with their extensive medical and technical knowledge and experience, will help ensure these vital programs succeed.” The Viral Disease Branch conducts infectious disease research, with an emphasis on viral disease threats such as dengue, Zika, influenza, adenovirus and other infections that pose a potential risk to service men and women. Through this contract, CNTS will provide epidemiologic disease surveillance and sample collection, basic and exploratory science and translational research, as well as product research and development in an effort to license and field medical countermeasures against infectious disease threats. For more information about the company’s medical research support services, email Lisa Holsinger, CNTS program director, at <a href="mailto:"></a>. CNTS, formed in 2008, provides technical support services and project support personnel to its defense and civilian agency partners. The company provides a tailored management approach for complex government programs and disciplines, including research and development, geospatial intelligence, science, engineering, construction, facilities management, program management, information technology and mission support. It’s headquartered in Tulsa and is part of the Cherokee Nation Businesses family of companies. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
03/19/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – From noon to 1 p.m. on March 21, OETA is inviting you for a live chat about the award-winning documentary “Mankiller” – an in-depth look at the life and work of Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. During this live Q&A, Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, the director, and Gina Olaya, Mankiller’s daughter, will speak on the making of the documentary and answer questions live. The conversation will be available to live stream at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Viewers can ask questions in the comments section of the YouTube live stream. The live stream will be available to watch at <a href=" "target="_blank"></a> and at <a href=" "target="_blank"></a>. In 1985, after serving as deputy chief, Mankiller took office as the CN’s first woman principal chief. Having been relocated from Oklahoma to San Francisco earlier in her life, Mankiller worked with both the Black Panther organization and the Alcatraz occupation movements, eventually bringing that passion and experience she gained there back to her people. During her decade-long tenure as principal chief and beyond, Mankiller’s leadership enabled the CN to become one of the most economically and culturally successful tribes in America. Through rare archival footage and intimate interviews with activists including Gloria Steinem, as well as with Mankiller herself, “Mankiller” gives us insight into how she successfully navigated through the minefield of bipartisan politics. The documentary has won the following awards: · Best of Fest – Palm Springs International Film Festival, · Best Documentary Feature – Rome International Film Festival, · Best Documentary Feature – Tulsa American Film Festival, and · Best Editing – United Nations Association Film Festival. For more info, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
03/19/2018 08:00 AM
STILWELL – Whether you call it Yowie, Yeti, Sasquatch or Bigfoot, the mystery of the beast drew hundreds to Stilwell on March 10 to the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center as researchers tried to provide evidence that the creature isn’t such a mystery. The center holds an annual Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium and offers people a chance to hear researchers, audio recordings and firsthand accounts and view castings. “We actually have different researchers that will be presenting their research from the past year. Different audio, different pictures, whatever they have and new developments as they find stuff out,” Rex Hatfield, MABRC field researcher, said. D.W. Lee, MABRC executive director, said since the symposium began nearly six years ago there have been multiple accounts of people reporting Bigfoot sightings. “I would say on average we have 10 to 15 reports turned into us at every symposium,” he said. “It’s a nice way for people to relate their experiences and find out for sure if what they’ve seen was a bigfoot or not.” The symposium took place at CC Camp, which Lee said is approximately a mile away from the group’s research center. “We call it the Devil’s Cauldron because it’s a bowl shape area, and then past that we have two other research areas within two miles of that,” he said. “A lot of Natives in this area, they’ve come up to us and told us of their encounters. It’s really a rich area for Bigfoot sightings and encounters.” With foot castings on display, Lee said it’s the symposium’s “biggest” piece of evidence that Bigfoot lurks somewhere. “The casts are pretty much the biggest piece of evidence that we have that Bigfoot exists. We have a large collection of them inside from not just around here, but from around the country.” Hatfield said the symposium helps shed light on the creature. “The more people we have working together on this the more evidence we’re hoping to bring forward and solve this mystery, bring forward one of these creatures and find something out.” Regarding sightings, Lee said there’s anything from white, to tannish blonde and even black-haired Bigfoots that are typically reported in Adair County. “Around here we have a white one. We believe it’s the alpha of the troop in this area,” he said. “There’s a high voltage power line right-of-way that all of our research areas are within a mile of and since (19)96 he’s been seen within a mile of that power line on multiple sightings.” Hatfield said if someone encounters a Bigfoot they need to write it down. “Memories fade, but if you can write down as much details as you can as soon as possible it’d be best.” When researching, Lee said the group uses audio recorders, night vision cameras, thermal cameras and a drone. He said more people are having encounters in Oklahoma because they are moving into wooded areas. “We’ve probably got just as many Bigfoot as any other state, but since we’re pushing more out into the woods we’re coming across more and more encounters.” As for skeptics, Hatfield said “seeing is believing.” “Get out in the woods. Rather than judging us on what you’re seeing through a computer screen or on TV, come out and look for yourself. That’s the best way to get a good idea of what is and what isn’t,” he said. Lee said most skeptics are typically “diehard” skeptics. “They’re not going to believe that there’s an 8-foot tall, undocumented creature running around the woods,” he said. “I usually tell them, ‘you look at aliens, UFOs. We would be fools to think that we’re the only ones in this universe.’ We’re always encountering new species of animal. To actually believe that that’s not out there, you just can’t really follow that line of thought.” For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
03/18/2018 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State employees plan to join Oklahoma teachers in walking off the job next month if lawmakers don't give them a pay raise. The Oklahoman reports the Oklahoma Public Employees Association decided Saturday that state workers will strike if more than $213 million in pay raises aren't approved by April 2. The decision by the employees group comes after the Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teacher's organization, announced plans for a work stoppage April 2 if lawmakers don't approve a $6,000 pay raise by April 1. OPEA has endorsed a measure calling for a $71 million state employee pay raise this year, but the legislation was not heard in a legislative committee and it isn't being considered. Neither teachers nor state workers have received across-the-board pay raises since 2008.