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For the Children:    Honoring the Real Superheroes

Oklahoma-As we prepare for our upcoming banquet, it is my privilege to recognize the folks who the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will honor the evening of August 10th at our Heroes Ball!  We announced the winners just this past weekend, but I would like to go into further details about why each one of these individuals and organizations are “heroes” for Oklahoma kids. Our first honorees, receiving the SONIC Commitment Award, are Pastor Craig Groeschel and his wife Amy Groeschel of Life.Church. Craig and Amy are being recognized for their work to encourage Oklahomans to become foster or adoptive parents. Largely because of their efforts and the strong message they sent to their congregation, Oklahoma met its goal of recruiting more than 1,000 foster families last year. Our next honorees will receive the Steven A. Novick Award for Dedication.  If you have not heard of him, Steven was the attorney who won a landmark lawsuit which uncovered significant shortcomings within Oklahoma’s child welfare system, ultimately leading to major reforms and the creation of OICA.  The recipients this year are the television stations KFOR, KTUL and KSWO, each one of which devoted significant air time to the AdoptOkKids program that helps children in foster care find adoptive families. Continue Reading →

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OICA Announces Award Winners to be Recognized at Aug. 10 Heroes Ball  

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s (OICA) has announced the winners of three awards that will be presented at the OICA Heroes Ball on August 10 at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. Each award winner was chosen by the OICA Board of Directors for their outstanding contribution to children’s well-being in Oklahoma. The winners of the Kate Barnard Perseverance Award are Jasmine and Melvin Moran, the creators of the Jasmine Moran Childen’s Museum in Seminole, Oklahoma. Their museum has inspired and educated countless children since its opening in 1993. The award is named after Oklahoma’s first female elected official, who worked to end child labor and the mistreatment of Native children. Continue Reading →

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Miller County Delinquent Business Tax List Hits Social Media

Miller County, AR – Some are calling it “Public Shaming,” but for the Miller County Tax Collector, she is calling it “Public Accountability.”  What is that “Public Accountability”?  It’s a list of  over $200,000 of taxes owed to the county that is hitting social media today.  Several media outlets have already published the list.  Most of the responses from the public have been supportive so far; however, there have been a few that prefer to call it all “Public Shaming” and feel that it should not have been done. Continue Reading →

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Gov. Hutchinson Approves Arkansas Participation in National Emergency Communication System

Arkansas Joins Virginia and Wyoming as one of the first states to officially “opt in” to the FirstNet and AT&T plan

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced that Arkansas will opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the State’s public safety community. The Governor made the announcement from the National Governors Association’s Summer Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. With the announcement, Arkansas joins Virginia and Wyoming as one of the first states to officially declare their intention to participate in the program. The Governor’s official letter can be found HERE.  
“After an in-depth review of the FirstNet and AT&T plan by the appropriate state agencies and stakeholders, I have decided to approve their recommendation to opt in to the program,” Governor Hutchinson said. Continue Reading →

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The Drexel Fund Awards $400,000 Grant to Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School

Oklahoma- Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School today announced it is the recipient of a $400,000 grant from The Drexel Fund to support the school’s start-up and operating costs. The Drexel Fund is a national venture philanthropy fund that invests and partners in the growth of high-quality, financially sustainable faith-based networks and other private schools to create transformational outcomes for all students and families. Cristo Rey OKC is a private, college-preparatory Catholic school that will open its doors to its first class of incoming freshmen in Fall of 2018. The school is part of the national Cristo Rey network known for its unique educational model exclusively serving children in low-income families. All schools focus on a combination of rigorous academics and “real world” work experience.  100 percent of Cristo Rey students receive financial aid as part of a corporate work-study program, funded by local businesses, where students work one day a week at the partner company for the entire year. Continue Reading →

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July 4, Fireworks, Shows, Parades, and God

It started with a suggestion in June, followed by a meeting on July 2, and finally a formal signing on July 4, 1776.  From that moment on, the cry would go up around the world that the colonies of the North American Continent, all thirteen of them, had declared independence from Great Britain.  Like any country, Britain would not take kindly to losing the colonies.  In fact, no country in the history of the world has ever simply said, “Sure, go ahead and leave us and take all the investments we made into your area with you.”  No, instead the greatest empire in the world set out to reclaim the colonies and force them back into the British realm.  The rest of the story, you know as the United States won independence in the war that followed.  To this day, we still hear our friends across the pond in England wish us a “Happy Traitor’s Day.”  Naturally, this is done more in good humor now that we are friends so many years after the revolution. The founding fathers were by no means blind to the fact that they were setting in motion something that would be celebrated for years, and perhaps forever.  John Adams wrote to his wife of the importance of the entire event that officially started on July 2 and ended on July 4.  He sent his letter on July 3, 1776 that included the following statement:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Continue Reading →

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Thrifty Bird Brings Walmart Markdowns To Email

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a new business he has running with me called Thrifty Bird (Thriftybird.com).   He signed me up with my permission and I started to receive daily emails at roughly 3 a.m. each morning.  By the time I would stumble out of bed, I could pull my Thrifty Bird email and see all the latest mark downs at my local Walmart stores. Now I’m sure that a lot of folks are thinking, “Big deal, I can see the sales paper or go see the mark downs myself.”  Yes, that’s one way of doing business, but then you miss the bigger picture.  Thrifty Bird does something that sale papers cannot do.  It captures daily mark downs.  Did you know that Walmart marks prices down daily on many items?  With such a large inventory, they have clearance items, stock reduction items, and even outdated items – think digital copies free with a purchased DVD or Blu-ray that have expired.  These items do not always make the local sales paper because the item or items may be exclusive to one or a few stores.  Let’s say that all the Walmart stores nationwide sell out of a “Top Notch” television sets – don’t worry, there is no such thing to my knowledge as “Top Notch” – but the store in Texarkana, Texas still has three units on the shelf.  The main Walmart sales paper- which goes nationwide – is not going to advertise that those “Top Notch” televisions are about to be marked down.  You cannot have people in Dallas running to a store, searching for a “Top Notch” and then not finding one!  So, “Top Notch” never makes the main sale paper.  If you happen to go into Walmart in Texarkana, Texas, then you find “Top Notch” televisions have been marked down from $300 to $75 and they only have three of them left.  Because you happened to go into the store, you lucked out and got a “Top Notch” television for a great price.  But, what if you don’t go to the store that day?  You miss out and there’s no “Top Notch” television in your future.  Enter Thrifty Bird! Thrifty Bird will send you an email with your selected store – in this case Texarkana, Texas – and you’ll see a post that says something like this:  “Top Notch” Television set, 3 in stock, Reg. price $300, marked down $75 in electronics row 33”.  Now you know how many sets are there, what the mark down price is, and where to find the television once you get to the store.  You’ve received your email early in the day – remember, they just marked it down around midnight – and you can quickly run to the Texarkana, Texas Walmart and buy your set.  Thrifty Bird brings you the clearance or reduced prices before anyone else gets them…. well, before anyone other than other Thrifty Bird uses. Continue Reading →

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Miller County Receives “Turnback” Check From Arkansas

Miller County, AR- When land and/or homes in a county go tax delinquent it cuts into funds needed for the county to operate efficiently.  Money that would normally go for schools, county pay raises, road improvements, sheriff patrols and many other areas needed stops when a land or home owner does not to pay the taxes.  There can be any number of reasons that an owner may not pay, but regardless of the reason, it affects everyone in the county.  When an owner does not pay the taxes, they become delinquent and eventually the County Tax Collector must certify the property and send it to the State Land Commissioner.  Once there additional attempts are made to collect the taxes, fines and other penalties.  If the State Land Commissioner can not collect, the property goes to auction.  The auction recovers the taxes, fines and fees from bidders.  If the property has multiple bidders, an overage is created.  After four years on the books, that overage, called “Turnback” and is sent back to the county. Today State Land Commissioner John Thurston came to Texarkana and presented the check for the Miller County Turnback.   Today’s check brought a Turnback, or overage, of $338,839.  This means that not only did the county receive the delinquent tax funds, but it also received the money from the auction in the form of the Turnback. While the state conducted the sales, the bottom line is Miller County would never have seen this Turnback without the work of Cathy Hardin-Harrison, the County Tax Collector, and her staff at the county.    Cathy’s office maintains the records, reviews the tax rolls, and certifies the delinquent taxes before turning them over to the state.  Without this operation, not only would Miller County be missing delinquent taxes, but the county would never have seen a Turnback check.  Today a few pictures were posted on Facebook about the check and the Turnback, but the citizens of Miller County deserve to know that those funds came to the county only through the hard work of the Tax Collector’s staff and Cathy Hardin-Harrison. Continue Reading →

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Youth Programs Can Lead to Future Careers

 

Oklahoma-I had the great pleasure last week of visiting a summer youth program at Bridgestone Intermediate School in western Oklahoma City.  This group of about thirty students in the 5th and 6th grade was a joy to meet with, and many of them were already expressing an interest in politics. They asked me to share my story with them: how I became a state legislator, a gubernatorial candidate and now the director of OICA. As I related that story, I realized that many of my lifelong passions developed when I was only slightly older than them. My interest in politics really started in earnest when I served as a page for Senator Ray Giles as a high school student.  From that experience, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to a career path of helping shape policy and working in the best interest of my fellow Oklahomans. I had this experience thanks to a 4-H award which I won my junior year.  I had joined 4-H when I was the same age as the Bridgestone students I met last week, and I experienced many wonderful leadership development opportunities which not only took me outside the town limits of Rush Springs, but all across the United States. Continue Reading →

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SPRING LAKE PARK POND DREDGING SCHEDULED FOR JULY

 
TEXARKANA, TX- Beginning in July 2017, the City of Texarkana, Texas will work in conjunction with Tatum Excavating Company (TEC) to dredge the Spring Lake Park Pond. The project is part of the City’s current Capital Improvement Plan and is estimated to cost approximately $875,000. Dredging activities will bring the pond to a depth of 10 feet, and the pond will be dewatered to facilitate the construction efforts. The project will also include the installation of gabion baskets with rock to support and enhance the perimeter of the pond. Annual pond maintenance will not be conducted this year considering the scope and time frame of the dredging project. Continue Reading →

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