Ledger/LCJ newsletter 1-22-2021

The Ledger/LCJ newsletter for Friday

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NEWS

PVIA water now flowing in Heavener

By CRAIG HALL

Heavener has completely switched over to using the Poteau Valley Improvement Authority for the city’s water service since the first of the year.

Some clean-up work is all that is left to do at the water plant, which is not needed since the water is coming in from the PVIA. There is some concern about water volume as there was recently a water pipe burst that threatened the water flow to Heavener and OK Foods.

The HUA was informed that three two-inch meters at the schools and 90 small meters throughout the community are also not working.

Present were Mayor Max Roberts, Council member Gail Nichols, along with HUA members Billy Adrean, Marvin Meredith and David Grubbs Sr.

The planned Heavener City Council meeting was canceled due to a lack of a quorum.

Unemployment claims decline again

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) continues to report a decline in continued unemployment claims with the continued claims four-week moving average dropping for the 30th consecutive week. 

“After a slight increase in initial claims last week, it is encouraging to see that initial claims declined this week and continued claims have steadily declined for more than 30 weeks,” said Shelley Zumwalt, OESC Executive Director. “This week, we saw a rise in the initial claims four-week moving average, which is to be expected after the increase in initial claims last week. Our team is continuing to put claimants first and ensuring that Oklahomans get the benefits they need.”

Continued Assistance Act

On Jan. 8, OESC paid out the first batch of federal benefits from the Continued Assistance Act to eligible claimants. The agency also rolled out a timeline for when other claimants can expect to receive their benefits. 

“Barring any unforeseen roadblocks, we are still on track to distribute payments on Jan. 25 to the vast majority of Oklahomans who are eligible,” said Zumwalt. “All of our testing to date has been successful, and we are continuing to prioritize getting these payments to Oklahomans in need as quickly as possible.”

Weekly Unemployment Numbers for Week Ending Jan. 16

  • For the week ending Jan. 16, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, total of 5,948, a decrease of 1,069 from the previous week's revised level of 7,017. 

  • Initial claims four-week moving average was 6,014, an increase of 183 from the previous week's revised average of 5,831.

  • The advance unadjusted number of continued claims totaled 34,591, a decrease of 6,884 from the previous week’s revised level of 41,475.

  • Continued claims’ four-week moving average was 39,339, a decrease of 2,050 from the previous week's revised average of 41,389.

Nationally, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims during the same period was 900,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor reports. The four-week moving average was 848,000, an increase of 23,500 from the previous week. For the week ending Jan. 9, DOL reports the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

The national weekly seasonally adjusted initial claims report is one of 10 components in the Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators. To smooth out the volatility in the weekly initial claims data, a four-week moving average is used to assess trends.

School threats can be reported by text  

OKLAHOMA CITY - Students, teachers and staff can now report threats in Oklahoma schools via text message. Through a partnership between the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI), a division of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (ODEMHS), this state-of-the-art technology will enhance statewide school safety and security to an already existing telephone tip line. 

“Students need to feel safe and comfortable for meaningful learning to occur,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “We must do everything in our power to ensure student safety, and we are grateful for this partnership that allows for us to expand the tip line.” 

The text function works in conjunction with OSSI's telephone tip line. Before the addition of text, reports could be called in at (855) 337-8300 or filed online at tipline.ok.gov. Now, suspicious activity or concerns can be reported by texting “OKS Threat” to 226787. Texting a tip will allow for anonymous, two-way communication, images and video to be sent 24 hours a day. Any incident that could compromise the safety or security of any Oklahoma school or school-sanctioned event should be reported. 

“Our office is committed to the safety and security of our students and school personnel across the state,” said Gary Shelton, OSSI program manager. “We are always looking at new technology to enhance our threat reporting capabilities, and we hope this addition to our current tip line will be utilized to better warn our schools of any pending acts of violence."

The funding for the texting add-on to OSSI’s tip line came from a $250,000 grant awarded to OSDE by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Coronavirus update 1-21-2021

LeFlore County had 32 new coronavirus cases in Thursday’s report by the Oklahoma Department of Health.

Howe had 10 new cases, Poteau had nine, Heavener and Pocola both had three, Cameron, Shady Point and Spiro all had two and Panama had one.

The county has 361 active cases, down from 378 Wednesday. Overall, LeFlore County has had 4,538 cases, 4,142 recoveries and 35 deaths from complications due to the virus.

Oklahoma had 2,686 new cases, 55 deaths and 3,895 recoveries in Thursday’s report. Overall, the state has had 363,046 cases, 3,140 deaths and 327,135 recoveries. Active cases are 32,771, down 1,264 from Wednesday.

President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, in the State Dinning Room of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Biden ordering stopgap help

By JOSH BOAK Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — President Joe Biden plans to take executive action Friday to provide a stopgap measure of financial relief to millions of Americans while Congress begins to consider his much larger $1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two executive orders that Biden is to sign would increase food aid, protect job seekers on unemployment and clear a path for federal workers and contractors to get a $15 hourly minimum wage.

"The American people cannot afford to wait," said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. "So many are hanging by a thread. They need help, and we're committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible."

Deese emphasized that the orders are not substitutes for the additional stimulus that Biden says is needed beyond the $4 trillion in aid that has already been approved, including $900 billion this past December. Several Republican lawmakers have voiced opposition to provisions in Biden's plan for direct payments to individuals, state and local government aid and a $15 hourly minimum wage nationwide.

Most economists believe the United States can rebound with strength once people are vaccinated from the coronavirus, but the situation is still dire as the disease has closed businesses and schools. Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost since last February, and nearly 30 million households lack secure access to food.

One of Biden's orders asks the Agriculture Department to consider adjusting the rules for food assistance, so that the government could be obligated to provide more money to the hungry.

Children who are unable to get school meals because of remote learning could receive a 15% increase in food aid, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House. The lowest-income households could qualify for the emergency benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And the formula for calculating meal costs could become more generous.

The order also tries to make it easier for people to claim direct payments from prior aid packages and other benefits. In addition, it would create a guarantee that workers could still collect unemployment benefits if they refuse to take a job that could jeopardize their health.

Biden's second executive order would restore union bargaining rights revoked by the Trump administration, protect the civil service system and promote a $15 hourly minimum wage for all federal workers. The Democratic president also plans to start a 100-day process for the federal government to require its contractors to pay at least $15 an hour and provide emergency paid leave to workers, which could put pressure on other private employers to boost their wages and benefits.

These orders arrive as the Biden White House has declined to provide a timeline for getting its proposed relief package through, saying that officials are beginning to schedule meetings with lawmakers to discuss the proposal.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Thursday briefing that the proposal has support ranging from democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But not all components of the package are popular among Republicans, and that could delay passage in ways that could injure the economy. Psaki stressed that Biden wants any deal to be bipartisan and that the process of meeting with lawmakers to talk through the plan is just beginning.

Biden must balance the need for immediate aid against the risk of prolonged negotiations. Psaki said that Biden would not take options off the table but later added, "Part of the discussion we'll be having with members is, what do you want to cut?"

Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber, told reporters Thursday that Congress should act fast to approve the roughly $400 billion for national vaccination and reopening schools and other elements of the plan with bipartisan support, rather than drag out negotiations.

"We're not going to let areas of disagreement prevent progress on areas where we can find common ground," Bradley said. "We cannot afford six months to get the vaccination process working right. ... We can't even wait six weeks to get vaccinations distributed and schools reopened."

SPORTS

Howe, Pocola girls advance to finals

The girls’ finals for the 2021 LeFlore County Tournament have been set after Thursday’s semifinal games.

Top-seeded Howe will play second-seeded Pocola Saturday at 7 p.m. in Howe. This will be the third time in the last four years for the two teams to play for the championship.

Boys bracket

Girls bracket

Howe will be going for its seventh-straight championship, which would tie the Lady Lions with the Spiro boys from 1956 through 1961 with the most consecutive championships.

The Lady Lions got past Whitesboro, 45-36, while Pocola was too much for Heavener in a 68-38 victory. In addition to the championship game, Whitesboro visits Heavener in the third-place game Saturday at Heavener at 1 p.m.

The consolation games were also decided Thursday. The Panama girls overcame Cameron, 60-49, while Pocola’s boys edged Heavener, 48-45.

Friday’s games will feature the boys’ semifinals and the fifth-place games.

Both games are at 7 p.m. Spiro travels to Howe and Whitesboro goes to Panama. The winners play for the championship Saturday at 4 p.m. The third-place game is Saturday at 1 p.m. at the higher seed.

In the fifth-place games, Poteau’s girls visit LeFlore and the LeFlore boys are at Poteau. Both games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets center Isaiah Hartenstein defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Gilgeous-Alexander helping Thunder defy odds

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Some Thunder fans believe tanking to get higher draft picks is the way back to contention.

Apparently, the team disagrees.

Oklahoma City was expected by experts to be one of the NBA's worst teams this season -- just like last season, when they shocked the league and made the playoffs. Once again, the Thunder are defying the odds. Oklahoma City is off to a 6-7 start, despite five of its top seven scorers having been in the league three years or fewer and 35-year-old Mark Daigneault taking on his first NBA head coaching assignment.

Last year, the Thunder had veterans Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari to help them through the tough times. This year, young holdovers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Hamidou Diallo carry more of the load.

And they clearly are out to win, even with losses offering a potentially greater return on the slew of draft picks general manager Sam Presti has collected through trades in recent years.

"We're not trying to build a resilient culture, we're trying to continue a resilient culture," Daigneault said. "Resilient culture has existed here for a long period of time, ever since the team came here."

Gilgeous-Alexander is the budding star who leads the way. He averages 21.0 points, 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. He hit a game-winner in the season opener  against Charlotte.

"He's taking on a different level of responsibility," Daigneault said. "He's playing a different role on this team than he has so far in his career, and he's not shying away from that."

That approach was clear after he had four turnovers in a loss  to Denver on January 19.

"For me, personally, I got a little careless with the ball at times," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "They are a really good, active defensive team. They are always in the gaps, playing with length to get deflections and stuff like that. I just think I have to clean that up a little bit."

Even with that rough outing, there have been plenty of reasons for hope. The Thunder already have wins over Brooklyn and New Orleans and are 5-2 on the road. They rallied from 22 down to beat former coach Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls in overtime.

The Thunder have some rough losses, including a 29-point home loss to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. But the young core appears ready to dig in and compete.

Dort went undrafted in 2019, but his defense got him into the starting lineup by the end of the season. This year, the guard ranks second on the team with 13.4 points per game and he's shooting 43.7% from 3-point range. Diallo, the main man off the bench, averages 11.1 points per contest. Bazley, an explosive second-year forward, averages 10.5 points and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds.

Other young players have stepped up, too. Isaiah Roby, a second-year center out of Nebraska, has been an adequate fill-in for Al Horford when needed. He averages 9 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. First-round pick Aleksej Pokusevski, a 7-footer from Serbia, is playing 17 minutes per game. Second-rounder Theo Maledon, a 19-year-old guard from France, is playing 20.

Even the youngest players already have taken on the Thunder mentality -- the one Daigneault picked up in his days as a Thunder assistant last season and as coach of the Thunder's G-League affiliate before that.

"When I look at our logo, that's kind of what I think about is that spirit," he said. "The relentless competitive spirit of the teams were really good teams here. We've got a lot of new players and a lot of young players, and that's the type of mentality that we try and nurture."

OTHER STORIES

Blast from the past 1-22-2021

Here is today’s blast from the past.

Blast from the past is a feature we run daily on ledgerlcj.com along with our newsletter heavenerledger.substack.com.

Each day we feature an old picture of the people, places and events in LeFlore County from days gone by.

This photograph is of a group of horse riders from a parade in the 1970s. Photo was by Gene Hall.

If you have an image you would like to post on the blast from the past, send an email to craig@heavenerledger.com or bring it by the Ledger’s office at 507 East First Street.

To see a gallery of the old pictures, please visit: http://craighallphotos.com/old-photos/

LeFlore County weather 1-22-2021

A nice day forecast for Friday in LeFlore County.

Clear skies with a high of 57 degrees and a low of 34 degrees.

Sunrise is at 7:23 a.m. with sunset at 5:37 p.m.

Thursday’s high was 42 with a low of 44.

Average temperatures for the date are a high of 51 and low of 22. Records for the date were a high of 72 in 1986 and a low of 9 in 1985.

Calendar of events

The LeFlore County calendar of events lists the upcoming events in the area. This is a free service so if you or your group have an event coming up and would like it added to the calendar, please send an email to craig@heavenerledger.com.

Friday

Funeral service for Audie Young

High school basketball: Boys semifinals Spiro at Howe, Whitesboro 7 p.m.; Fifth-place games girls Poteau at LeFlore, boys LeFlore at Poteau 4 p.m.

Saturday

Funeral service for Jim Adams

Funeral service for Rev. Edward Pierce

High school basketball: LCT

Monday

LeFlore County commissioners meet 9 a.m.

High school basketball: Panama at McCurtain; Talihina at Broken Bow

Tuesday

Poteau Evening Lions Club meet 6 p.m. CASC

High school basketball: Heavener at Pocola; Valliant at Howe; Quinton at Wister; Whitesboro at LeFlore; Kinta at Panama; Cave Springs at Cameron; Sallisaw at Spiro; Talihina at Hartshorne; Keota at Arkoma.

Wednesday

Poteau Rotary Club meets noon at EOMC

Thursday

Kiwanis Club meets noon at Western Sizzlin’

Heavener VFW bingo 6 p.m.

High school basketball: Wilburton at Wister; Buffalo Valley at Cameron; Haworth at Whitesboro.

Today in history 1-22-2021

By The Associated Press undefined

Today in History

Today is Friday, Jan. 22, the 22nd day of 2021. There are 343 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade decision, declared a nationwide constitutional right to abortion. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson died at his Texas ranch at age 64.

On this date:

In 1901, Britain's Queen Victoria died at age 81 after a reign of 63 years; she was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII.

In 1907, the Richard Strauss opera "Salome" made its American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York; its racy content sparked outrage and forced cancellation of additional performances.

In 1944, during World War II, Allied forces began landing at Anzio, Italy.

In 1970, the first regularly scheduled commercial flight of the Boeing 747 began in New York and ended in London some 6 1/2 hours later.

In 1973, George Foreman upset reigning heavyweight champion Joe Frazier with a second round TKO in their match in Kingston, Jamaica.

In 1987, Pennsylvania treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, convicted of defrauding the state, proclaimed his innocence at a news conference before pulling out a gun, placing the barrel in his mouth and shooting himself to death in front of horrified onlookers.

In 1995, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy died at the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 104.

In 1997, the Senate confirmed Madeleine Albright as the nation's first female secretary of state.

In 1998, Theodore Kaczynski (kah-ZIHN'-skee) pleaded guilty in Sacramento, California, to being the Unabomber responsible for three deaths and 29 injuries in return for a sentence of life in prison without parole.

In 2006, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, the second-highest in NBA history, in the Los Angeles Lakers' 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

In 2007, a double car bombing of a predominantly Shiite commercial area in Baghdad killed 88 people. Iran announced it had barred 38 nuclear inspectors on a United Nations list from entering the country in apparent retaliation for U.N. sanctions imposed the previous month.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp within a year. (The facility remained in operation as lawmakers blocked efforts to transfer terror suspects to the United States; President Donald Trump later issued an order to keep the jail open and allow the Pentagon to bring new prisoners there.)

Ten years ago: Drawing inspiration from a revolt in Tunisia, thousands of Yemenis demanded the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH'-lee ahb-DUH'-luh sah-LEH') in a noisy demonstration that appeared to be the first large-scale public challenge to the strongman. (He stepped down as president in 2012.)

Five years ago: North Korea said it had detained Otto Warmbier, a university student from Ohio, for what the authoritarian nation called a "hostile act." (Warmbier was later sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor; he'd said he had tried to steal a propaganda banner as a trophy for an acquaintance. Warmbier died in 2017, shortly after he returned to the U.S. in a coma and showing apparent signs of torture while in custody.) California Gov. Jerry Brown rejected parole for a third time for Bruce Davis, a follower of cult leader Charles Manson.

One year ago: Chinese health authorities urged people in the city of Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings after warning that a new viral illness that had infected hundreds of people and caused at least nine deaths could spread further. Health officials in Washington state said they were actively monitoring 16 people who'd come in close contact with a traveler to China, the first U.S. resident known to be infected with the virus. In opening arguments at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, House Democrats appealed to skeptical Republican senators to oust Trump from office to "protect our democracy." In an NBA debut that had been delayed three months by knee surgery, Zion Williamson, the league's top draft pick, scored 22 points for the New Orleans Pelicans, but the Pelicans lost 121-117 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Piper Laurie is 89. Celebrity chef Graham Kerr (TV: "The Galloping Gourmet") is 87. Author Joseph Wambaugh is 84. Singer Steve Perry is 72. Country singer-musician Teddy Gentry (Alabama) is 69. Movie director Jim Jarmusch is 68. Actor John Wesley Shipp is 66. Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy is 64. Actor Linda Blair is 62. Actor Diane Lane is 56. Actor and rap DJ Jazzy Jeff is 56. Celebrity chef Guy Fieri is 53. Actor Olivia d'Abo is 52. Actor Katie Finneran is 50. Actor Gabriel Macht is 49. Actor Balthazar Getty is 46. Actor Christopher Kennedy Masterson is 41. Jazz singer Lizz Wright is 41. Pop singer Willa Ford is 40. Actor Beverley Mitchell is 40. Rock singer-musician Ben Moody is 40. Actor Kevin Sheridan is 39. Actor-singer Phoebe Strole is 38. Rapper Logic is 31. Tennis player Alizé Cornet (uh-LEEZ' kohr-NAY') is 31. Actor Sami Gayle is 25.

OBITUARIES

Services set for Rev. Joe Pierce

SPIRO – Rev. Edward "Joe" Pierce, 78, of Spiro, passed away Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 in Spiro.  Funeral services are 10 a.m. Saturday at the Evans Chapel of Memories in Poteau.

He was born April 10, 1942 in Boswell to Leroy and Evelyn (Clark) Pierce. 

He was a pastor for 45 years and pastored New Life Church in Spiro for 26 years.

Joe is survived by his wife, Robbie Pierce, of the home; son Eddie Pierce and wife Melinda; daughter Tammy Parker and husband Skip; grandchildren Bobby Joe Pierce and wife Tamara, Andriea Pierce, Precious Odom and husband Brad, Dawna Blakey, Dustin Parker, Whitney Crase and husband Travis, and Scottie Pierce, Jr.; great grandchildren Cade, McKenna, Judge, Clara, Abbi, Keelyn, Kecher, Adison, Brayson, Kolby, Zadon, Bailee, Hudson, Holden and Jaxlee; brothers Sam Pierce and wife Christi, Robert Pierce and wife Jeania, and Tony Pierce and wife Lisa; sisters Betty Winters, Shirley Miller and husband Larry, and Rhonda Bell.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife of 49 years, Norla Pierce; son Scottie Pierce; granddaughter, SheaLyn Pierce; and brother, Charles Pierce.

You may leave an online message at evansandmillerfuneralhomes.com.

Service planned for Jim Adams

SPIRO - Funeral service for James "Jim" Adams, 83 of Spiro, is 10 a.m. on Saturday at First Baptist Church in Spiro with Rev. James Smith officiating.

Burial will follow at Spiro City Cemetery, Oklahoma under the direction of Mallory-Martin Funeral Home of Spiro.

He was born April 16, 1937 in Panama to Wila Dean (Fox) Adams and Chester Adams and passed away Jan. 19, 2021 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Lois Adams, of the home; son, Mike Adams, of Spiro; daughter JoAnn Tollison and husband Kenny of Fort Smith, Arkansas; grandchildren Amanda Davis and husband Andrew of Van Buren, Arkansas, and Adam Richard and wife Khristy of Burmington, Washington; great grandchildren Carver Hardwick, Austyn Cait Davis, Rylan Richard and Landon Richard; and sister-in-law, Bea Watts, of Fort Smith.

He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Kimberly Lynn Adams; and sister Velda Brown and husband Harold.

Viewing is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

To sign his online guest book, visit www.mallorymartinfuneralhome.com.