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Cherokee Co. KS
100 S. Tennessee
PO Box 33
Columbus, KS 66725-0033
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Thu, Feb 12, 2009 6:59 PM
Two Oklahoma City lawyers, who represented victims of a May 3, 1999 tornado near Oklahoma City in a class-action suit involving
claims against an insurance company, are exploring the possibility of representing residents of the Picher/Cardin area in a similar action.
Jeff Marr and John Wiggans, the attorneys, and Gary Miles, a public adjuster with Casualty Consultants, Ponca City, met with
approximately 100 people Wednesday night in the community room at the Picher Housing Authority. The room was rented for the purpose of meeting with potential
The lawyers said they were interested in talking to those who were negatively impacted by the May 10, 2008 tornado that struck
Picher in connection with their insurance coverage, and those who feel they have been adversely impacted by the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance
Trust and the trust's appraisal company, Cinnabar.
At the beginning of the meeting, one of the lawyers asked whether anyone attending the meeting was associated with the trust or
Cinnabar. A woman said she worked for Cinnabar. She was asked to leave.
The public adjuster said they were concerned about the presence of residents at the meeting who have not yet been approached by the
trust or who are in the buyout process. Those residents, he said, would be reluctant to speak during the meeting if they thought they might be dealing with
those Cinnabar or trust officials in the future.
The lawyers said they will examine the constitutionality of the law where the trust collected the insurance settlements from Picher
residents without compensating the residents for the premiums they paid for that coverage. Also in question, they said, is the issue of whether the trust is
immune to citizens lawsuits in that taxpayer money is funding the buyout.
Fri, Feb 13, 2009 3:17 PM
By Wally Kennedy
PICHER, Okla. - Two Oklahoma City lawyers, who successfully represented victims of a May 1999 tornado near Oklahoma City in a
class-action suit involving claims against an insurance company, are exploring the possibility of representing residents of the Picher-Cardin area in a similar
Jeff Marr and John Wiggans, the attorneys, and Gary Miles, a public adjuster with Casualty Consultants, Ponca City, met with about
100 people for three hours Wednesday night in the community room at the Picher Housing Authority.
The room, they said, was rented for the purpose of meeting with potential clients.
The lawyers said they were interested in talking to those who have concerns about the property-insurance settlements they received
in connection with damage resulting from the May 10, 2008, tornado that struck Picher.
They said they also were there to talk to those who believe they have not been treated fairly in the government buyout being
managed by the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust and the trust's appraisal company, Cinnabar Services of Tulsa.
After hearing comments from those attending the meeting, Marr told them: "Gather all your information for us. It's
something we do want to pursue. They know what they have done."
Many in attendance at the meeting were Picher and Cardin residents who accepted offers from the trust under protest in 2007 and
2008. They said the appraisal company undervalued their properties, and that their appeals to the trust and to Gov. Brad Henry for help went unanswered. They
said they accepted the "take it or leave it" offers because it might be their only chance to get something for their properties, which are in the
heart of the Tar Creek Superfund Site in the former lead- and zinc-mining belt.
The state of Oklahoma is overseeing the $60 million buyout of about 700 properties in the Picher-Cardin area because of
public-safety risks associated with the potential of cave-ins. Federal tax dollars, secured by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., have funded the voluntary buyout,
which should conclude later this year.
Wiggans said the constitutionality of a state law that prevents residents from suing the trust will be challenged. He said he
doubts that the trust is immune from lawsuits in that taxpayer money is funding the buyout.
In statements early last year, Robert Parmele Jr., president of Cinnabar Services, and J.D. Strong, state adviser to the trust who
is now Oklahoma's secretary of environment, said mistakes had been made with the appraisals, but that steps were taken to correct the deficiencies.
On Thursday, Parmele did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment about the possibility of a class-action lawsuit. Larry
Roberts, manager of trust operations, and Paul Sund, press secretary to Henry, were asked by phone for their reaction to the possible legal action, but both
declined to comment.
John Frazier, who attended the meeting and had accepted his buyout offer under protest, said: "We got some positive words last
night that we never got from the trust, Cinnabar or the review appraisers. These people are at least talking to us.
"I am very hopeful about this. If I were asked to participate in a class-action lawsuit, I would."
Aletha Redden, a Picher resident who has declined her offer from the trust, said: "I think that anyone can see that
there's something wrong when someone has paid insurance premiums for 30 years and someone else gets the settlement money.
"Just listening to them last night gave me hope. It gave us all hope. What we want is for justice to be served and for
everybody to be treated fairly. Many of the people who were there last night are elderly people who have been bought out who probably won't live long
enough to see the benefit of a class-action lawsuit, and that's a shame."
Other Picher residents who attended the meeting said they were reluctant to comment for fear of retaliation from the trust
involving family members who are waiting to receive buyout offers.
The lawyers told those attending the meeting that they had spent five hours before the meeting with Ed Keheley, a Picher resident
who resigned from the trust when, he has said, it became apparent to him that the buyout offers were insufficient in helping people move out of the town.
Keheley, who has been critical of the trust, was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
At the beginning of the meeting, Marr asked whether anyone attending was associated with the trust or Cinnabar. A woman said she
worked for Cinnabar. She was asked to leave.
Roberts, the manager of the trust operations, said he had been told by the public adjuster that he could attend the meeting, but
later was told that he could not.
Miles, the public adjuster, said he and the lawyers were concerned because some people at the meeting have not yet been approached
by the trust or are in the buyout procedure. Those residents, he said, would be reluctant to speak during the meeting if they thought they might be dealing
with those Cinnabar or trust officials in the future.
Those attending the meeting were asked to fill out a one-page questionnaire about their circumstances involving the trust, the
appraisal company and their insurance provider. Those who could not attend were directed to the law firm's Web site - www.marrlawfirm.com - to fill out an
The attorneys who met Wednesday night with residents of the Picher-Cardin area successfully represented 71 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit in which a jury
found that State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. intentionally underpaid claims to families whose homes were damaged by a 1999 tornado near Oklahoma City. One of
the plaintiffs in that suit was awarded $13 million.
Source: The Associated Press
Fri, Feb 13, 2009 3:33 PM
Mon, Feb 16, 2009 2:57 PM
By Joe Hadsall
PICHER, Okla. - Police in two states are looking for information about damage caused by stolen school buses.
Quapaw police Chief Gary Graham said officers are investigating the theft of school vehicles overnight Friday from the
Picher-Cardin School District's bus barn. The Quapaw police provide law enforcement for nearby Picher.
At least two people broke into the building and stole a full-sized school bus, a minibus and a pickup truck owned by the district,
Graham said. He said the vehicles were found in three places:
n The bus was backed into an abandoned house about a mile west of Picher on the Oklahoma side of State Line Road. The house was
severely damaged by the impact.
n The pickup truck was found about a half-mile away, in a field on the east side of Southwest 20th Street in Cherokee County, Kan.
The truck was found burned. Graham said authorities are investigating it as an arson case.
n The minibus was found severely damaged at Grove Road and U.S. Highway 69, near Treece, Kan.
Graham said the department had no suspects as of Sunday night.
"There had to be at least two or three people," he said. "From where the buses were located, it's obvious that
two vehicles were at the locations."
Don Barr, superintendent of the Picher-Cardin School District, said bus routes will run normally this morning. The rest of the
buses in the fleet and the barn appeared to be undamaged, he said.
"I have no idea how they got in," Barr said. "When I arrived Saturday morning, I found two bus doors sliding
Barr said the three vehicles were valued at about $80,000.
Police are asking that anyone with knowledge of the thefts and property destruction contact the Quapaw Police Department at (918)
674-2516, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department at (620) 429-3992 or the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department at (918) 542-2806.
Mon, Feb 16, 2009 3:01 PM
By Debbie Robinson
MIAMI, Okla. - People clapped their hands and tapped their feet Sunday afternoon to the performance of the Glenn Miller Orchestra
at the historic Coleman Theatre.
About 600 people from across the region listened to standards such as the orchestra's signature song, "Moonlight
Serenade," along with "Pennsylvania 6-5000" and "Tuxedo Junction."
Proceeds from the performance will go to the restoration project for the theater's upstairs ballroom and conference center.
Larry O'Brien has served as musical director for the past 23 years, guiding the 20-member orchestra through 250 performances a
Miller died in 1944, and the orchestra that continues to tour the world formed in 1956, O'Brien said.
Musicians range in age from 22 to 50, and they come from numerous states, including Alaska, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado and
Massachusetts, he said. The orchestra has no geographic base and tours the majority of the year, he said.
Musicians change, but the music stays true to the big-band sound made famous by Miller.
"I'm lucky if I can keep a guy for a year," said O'Brien, a trombonist.
He said he plans to continue directing the orchestra "until it's not fun anymore. If you want to play music, it's the
dues. That's what you have to do."
The nearly two-hour performance included an original piece composed by vocalist Julia Rich, of Nashville, Tenn.
During a 30-minute sound check before the performance, the orchestra performed "Get Your Kicks on Route 66." The theater
is located on historic Route 66 in downtown Miami.
O'Brien said the individual songs vary from performance to performance. If a musician is having a birthday, O'Brien said,
he will insert a solo performance for the musician.
Attendees from all ages roared with approval as the orchestra entertained the large crowd.
The guest book in the ornate lobby showed attendees from Carthage, Neosho and Seneca in Missouri, and Henryetta, Vinita, Tulsa and
Fran Cottey, of Tulsa, drove up for the performance.
"We were real fans of Glenn Miller," she said. "We're from that era and of that age."
Gene and Myla Godby, of Muskogee, were visiting the theater for the first time.
"It almost makes chills go through you, it's so beautiful," Myla Godby said.
The couple said they also were big fans of Miller. "It has a sound all its own," she said.
Miller organized his first touring band in 1937 and continued to perform until his death. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy
Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
Barbara Smith, Coleman Theatre director, said the theater organization had no specific amount of money its was expecting from the
performance. "I'm just hoping for whatever," she said.
Mon, Feb 16, 2009 3:56 PM
Globe/Gary Crow - Donald Singleton Jr., a Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College student, takes a breather
on one of the bicycles the school lends to students and faculty. The bicycle-loan program was established during the 2007-08 school year to help reduce the
number of autos on campus.
institutes bicycle-loan program
Published February 15, 2009 10:30 pm - Joplin Globe
By Debbie Robinson
MIAMI, Okla. - Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College is going "greener" with a bicycle-loan program for students and
The NEO Going Green Committee established the program during the 2007-08 school year to reduce the number of cars on campus and
the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere by vehicles, said Christen Stark, director of public relations and marketing.
The committee hopes that through the use of bicycles, it can help reduce the carbon footprint on campus, and encourage others to
reduce driving time and ride bicycles, said Gina Manders, committee chairwoman.
The NEO Police Department donated one bicycle that was abandoned on campus, and the Miami Police Department donated five
unclaimed bicycles, Stark said.
Miami police Chief Gary Anderson said most of the bicycles the department receives are abandoned and in need of repair.
"They wanted five that worked," he said. "Out of 75, we were just able to get five."
The department is legally required to hold the bicycles for six months, and then they can be sold at auction or donated to
tax-exempt or nonprofit organizations, Anderson said. Stolen bicycles also are held for six months.
"We're just glad we could help out," Anderson said.
From Maine to Oregon, universities and colleges are establishing bicycle-loan programs as part of environmental efforts and to
reduce the number of vehicles on campuses, especially where parking is limited.
The NEO policy does not require a deposit, Stark said. "We have a policy in place that if you harm the bike, you will be
required to fix it," she said.
The committee has yet to decide the length of the loan agreement, she said, and is still working out the details.
The college's maintenance department will ensure that the bicycles are kept in good working order, she said.
The program is especially designed for students who live on campus.
"It's a great thing to do," Stark said. "We have international students who don't have a vehicle or a
Other students cannot afford cars, she said.
Students or faculty can use the bicycles on campus and anywhere in Miami where it is legal to ride, Stark said.
"If the demand for bikes increases, we'll certainly get more," she said.
Mon, Feb 16, 2009 9:52 PM
Tue, Feb 17, 2009 12:08 AM
Globe/Gary Crow - A column at the front of the old Ottawa County
Courthouse in Miami starts to tumble Monday as workers with DT Specialized Services of Tulsa go about demolishing the structure erected 1916. The demolition
project is to be complete in about two weeks.
Crews begin razing of old courthouse in Ottawa
County w/ Courthouse demolition slide show
Click the link Ottawa County courthouse demolition to view the slide show of photos taken
during the demolition of the Ottawa County courthouse.
Published February 16, 2009 09:24 pm - Joplin Globe
MIAMI, Okla. - Demolition of the old Ottawa County Courthouse in Miami began Monday amid clouds of smoke and debris.
Newly appointed County Commission Chairman John Clarke said a crew from DT Specialized Services in Tulsa began the demolition at 8
a.m. and plans to complete the project in two weeks. The old courthouse is being torn down to make room for a parking lot near the new courthouse.
The commissioners in late January awarded a contract to the Tulsa company for $68,055.
Crews on Monday worked with three excavators, including one that has a 50-foot boom and crushing jaws, Clarke said.
The 1916 courthouse sits between the new courthouse and the Sheriff's Department.
"They're working in pretty tight quarters," Clarke said. "They are working a little slow."
Metal from the building will be hauled to the demolition company's Tulsa yard and prepared for recycling, he said. The
remainder of the debris will be taken to a pit south of Miami. Once the debris is buried, Clarke said, the site will be restored to vegetation.
The commissioners kept some of the old courthouse's marble tile flooring for placement in the memorial garden on the northwest
corner of the new courthouse. That memorial honors county residents who died while fighting with the U.S. armed forces.
The county grossed $15,000 from a Jan. 10 auction of furniture, doors, marble fixtures and other items that were inside the old
Meanwhile, the commissioners are working on a proposal to solicit bids for construction of a parking lot with 77 spaces on the site
of the former courthouse, Clarke said.
Moving on up
Ottawa County employees began moving into the new, $5.2 million courthouse in late July. The cost of the new courthouse is being paid with a voter-approved,
quarter-cent sales tax over 30 years.
Tue, Feb 17, 2009 3:35 PM
Wed, Feb 18, 2009 6:16 PM
Wed, Feb 18, 2009 11:18 PM
Globe/Roger Nomer - Miami City Engineer Jack Dalrymple hunkers down
Wednesday as he talks about deterioration of the East Central Avenue bridge. He has been authorized by the City Council to seek a $1 million federal grant to
replace the span near Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
Miami plans to replace deteriorating bridge
Published February 18, 2009 10:02 pm - Joplin Globe
By Debbie Robinson
MIAMI, Okla. - The Miami City Council on Tuesday authorized City Engineer Jack Dalrymple to apply for a $1 million federal grant
to replace or repair a bridge on East Central Avenue near Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
The city's share of the project would be $250,000, Dalrymple said.
"We need a bridge badly," he said.
The bridge could be repaired, but the cost of repairs would be equivalent to the cost of building a new bridge, he said. EST
Engineering would design the new bridge at an estimated cost of $50,000. Building a new bridge, he said, would be about a two-year project.
The grant will be sought through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
"Keep in mind that ODOT sometimes goes beyond the one- or two-year period, so you have inflationary costs," said City
Manager Huey Long.
Dalrymple said he posted a 10-ton weight limit on the bridge because of its deteriorating condition. "The reason I did this
is an empty school bus weighs 11 tons," he said.
Dalrymple said the bridge's girders and bearings are rusted. He said flooding and lack of maintenance have contributed to the
"I've been under this bridge, and it scares me," he said. "I try to avoid that bridge."
Dalrymple said the bridge is safe, for now, for cars.
The Miami City Council on Tuesday:
Agreed to solicit proposals from 24 auditing firms to prepare the 2008-09 city budget. The city's fiscal year begins July
"These are firms that are specifically tailored to municipal operations," said City Manager Huey Long.
Heard from Frank Crawford of Crawford and Associates in Oklahoma City about implementing new city budgeting procedures.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009 8:09 PM
Fri, Feb 20, 2009 3:41 PM
Fri, Feb 20, 2009 6:30 PM
PICHER, Okla. (AP) - Under pressure from state and federal lawmakers, officials with a preschool program in Picher say they plan to
have it moved to nearby Quapaw next month.
Head Start Director Doug Spillman, whose office is in Miami, Okla., says the Picher Head Start program will be relocated to Quapaw
during spring break and reopen on March 23.
The move comes after Gov. Brad Henry and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe issued a joint statement last week, asking Head Start officials to
speed the pace of the program's relocation. Plans had called for the program to be moved at the end of the school year, to allow for minimal interruption
of services to families, Spillman said.
"We hope this to be as smooth a transition as we can do under the circumstances," Spillman said.
Picher sits on the Tar Creek Superfund site, which is beset with mine collapses, open shafts, acid mine water that stains Tar Creek
orange and mountains of lead-contaminated mine waste known as chat. Local children have tested high for dangerous levels of lead in their blood.
Henry and Inhofe cited health and safety concerns for children in their joint statement.
Spillman said of the 17 children in the preschool program, only one lives in Picher because of an ongoing buyout process. In 2005,
the state spent $3 million to move families with young children away from the area. That and a subsequent federal buyout have reduced the number of
preschoolers and first graders in Picher.
"The danger and health issues I must leave up to others," Spillman said. "All I know is that the blood tests of the
children were fine. There was none with high blood-lead levels. We test the children at the beginning of each school year. Hopefully Inhofe, the governor and
families will understand that we are doing the best we can."
Inhofe's spokesman, Danny Finnerty, said the senator believes the quickened pace of the program's relocation "is
certainly in the best interest of the children." Paul Sund, a spokesman for Henry, echoed that sentiment.
Spillman said the Picher Head Start program has existed since 1971.
Fri, Feb 20, 2009 7:07 PM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Nearly 70 private water wells were tested this week within a five-mile radius of the northeastern Oklahoma town
of Locust Grove, as state officials probe the possibility that pollution from Arkansas poultry farms caused a deadly E. coli outbreak in the town last summer.
The state's Department of Environmental Quality initially planned to test 55 wells after it received information from Oklahoma
Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office suggesting the August outbreak at the Country Cottage restaurant could have been the result of contamination from
"I'm sure people are definitely curious about what's in their water," said DEQ spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney on
the higher number of wells tested. "But there doesn't seem to be a sense of panic."
The DEQ expects the test results by late next week. If samples indicate the presence of bacteria, the department will conduct
another round of testing on the affected wells, McElhaney said Friday.
She said there are no current plans to expand the probe if a portion of the results come back positive.
Previously, the Oklahoma Department of Health said it was unlikely well water caused the outbreak, which became the largest in the
nation's history for the rare E. coli strain O111.
Pryor resident Chad Ingle died on Aug. 24, a week after eating at the Country Cottage. In addition, 341 people
became sick and 72 were hospitalized. Several young children required dialysis after they became ill.
Last week, Edmondson released a report concluding that the well at the popular buffet restaurant "is, and has been,
contaminated with poultry waste and associated bacteria, including E. coli."
Edmondson sued 13 Arkansas poultry companies in 2005, claiming that the excessive land application of chicken waste in the 1
million-acre Illinois River watershed could be a danger to public health. The case will go to trial in September.
Companies named in that complaint include Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine
Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine
Farms Inc. and Willow Brook Foods Inc.
Edmondson also is seeking to overturn a Tulsa federal judge's decision against stopping the poultry industry from disposing of
bird waste in the watershed, which is shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Last September, the judge ruled that Oklahoma had not yet met its burden of proving that bacteria in the waters of the watershed
are caused by poultry litter application rather than other sources like cattle manure and septic systems.
Oklahoma will argue its appeal on the injunction March 11 at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
A spokesman for Tyson said this week that the company was not aware "of any sampling data or studies suggesting that E. coli
O111 is commonly found in poultry litter."
Sat, Feb 21, 2009 11:54 PM
PICHER, Okla. - Students at Picher Head Start will be transferred to the Quapaw Head Start next month after calls from Oklahoma
Gov. Brad Henry and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe to close the center in the Tar Creek Superfund site.
Doug Spillman, director of the preschool program in Picher, said he was notified by the Head Start Region 6 director in Dallas to
relocate the 17 children, ages 3 through 5, to the Quapaw school.
Plans had been for the school to relocate after completion of this school year, he said, but Henry and Inhofe last week issued a
statement urging the federal agency to speed up the plan to transfer the children.
The Picher-Cardin School District will close its doors at the end of the school year, sending students next year to either Quapaw
or Commerce school districts. The demise of the school district is a consequence of the federal buyout under way in the former lead and zinc mining field.
Spillman oversees eight centers and 397 children in Northeast Oklahoma from his office in Jay.
All of the children were tested for lead contamination prior to the start of the school year, and the results were negative,
Children under the age of 6 are at the greatest risk of health effects associated with exposure to lead, according to the National
The NSC says even low levels of exposure can lead to IQ deficits, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, stunted or slowed
growth, and impaired hearing.
The center, located in downtown Picher adjacent to the Picher Housing Authority, sits on land that has been cleared of mine waste
and is not undermined, he said.
But, Spillman said, he and his staff will comply with the directive to relocate the students.
"We just mutually agreed," he said.
Henry's office issued a short statement Friday supporting the federal agency's decision to relocate the school.
"It's a step in the right direction and certainly in the best interest of the children involved," the statement read.
Parents will be responsible for transporting the children, none of whom live in Picher, Spillman said.
The Head Start program in Picher has not provided transportation for the children, he said.
A staff of four also will relocate during spring break the week of March 16-20, with classes to resume March 23.
"Our main concern is not to disrupt services," Spillman said.
The federal Head Start program had been leasing the center at Picher from the Picher Housing Authority, but owns the building in
Quapaw, Spillman said.
The Picher Head Start program was founded in 1971.
The Quapaw School District had been using the vacant building for a music room, Spillman said.
The state of Oklahoma has been overseeing a $60 million buyout of about 700 properties in the Picher-Cardin area because of
The voluntary federal buyout was announced in May 2006. An earlier state buyout targeted families with young children.
The Tar Creek Superfund site includes 40 square miles of former lead and zinc mining land in Ottawa County. While lead
contamination from mining waste was a factor in the initial state buyout, the impetus for the federal buyout was the risk of cave-ins associated with extensive
undermining of the area.
Sun, Feb 22, 2009 12:07 AM
Tue, Feb 24, 2009 12:34 AM
Tue, Feb 24, 2009 9:32 PM
Airplanes of all types will be heading to Miami for the Heritage Fly-In in April. photo by Guy Ellis
Wed, Feb 25, 2009 7:28 PM
The post office in Cardin is closing. Photo by Shelly Schultz
Cherokee Co. KS Genealogical-Historical Society
100 S. Tennessee
PO Box 33
Columbus, KS 66725-0033
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