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36 new cases reported by OSDH
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, a Talihina man in the 65-and-older group has passed away due to complications from coronavirus.
He is the 38th resident of the county to die from complications.
LeFlore County had 36 new cases in Thursday’s report.
Poteau had 10, Wister five, Pocola, Shady Point, Spiro and Talihina three each, Cameron, Howe and Panama had two while Arkoma, Bokoshe and Heavener all had one.
Active cases are 269, up 14 from Wednesday. The county has now had 4,687 cases and 4,380 recoveries.
Oklahoma had 2,320 new cases, 35 deaths and 2,969 recoveries in Thursday’s report. Overall, the state has had 381,430 cases, 3,423 deaths and 348,836 recoveries.
Active cases are 29,171, down 684 from Wednesday. Oklahoma’s average of new cases per day over the last seven days is 2,626.
Unemployment claims continue to decline
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) reports a continued decline in continued and initial unemployment claims, with the continued claims four-week moving average declining for the 31st consecutive week.
“We are encouraged to see the drop in continued claims for the 31st consecutive week. There was a significant drop in continued claims from last week, but we do expect to see a correction in reporting from the U.S. Department of Labor that will increase claims but still show a decline,” said Shelley Zumwalt, OESC Executive Director. “Our staff has worked incredibly hard to help claimants in need. In less than a year since last March, we have paid out over $4 billion in benefits.”
Continued Assistance Act
On Jan. 25 and 26, OESC paid out Continued Assistance Act (CAA) benefits to eligible claimants. In this round of payouts, the agency paid out more than $240 million.
“Our team worked tirelessly to get benefits into the hands of claimants in order to provide much needed relief,” said Zumwalt. “On Monday and Tuesday, the agency paid out over $240 million to claimants in Continued Assistance Act benefits. This is more funds paid out in two days than the nearly $230 million OESC paid out in four months for the Lost Wage Assistance program. I am grateful for our staff’s hard work in making this happen efficiently.”
If a claimant believes they are eligible for CAA benefits and did not receive benefits, they should visit https://oklahoma.gov/oesc and use the virtual agent to report the issue. OESC is working to fix any issues with payments as they are reported.
Weekly Unemployment Numbers for Week Ending Jan. 23
For the week ending Jan. 23, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 5,302, a decrease of 1,842 from the previous week's revised level of 7,144.
Initial claims’ four-week moving average was 6,381, an increase of 68 from the previous week's revised average of 6,313.
The advance unadjusted number of continued claims totaled 20,267, a decrease of 19,792 from the previous week’s revised level of 40,059.*
Continued claims’ four-week moving average was 35,990, a decrease of 4,716 from the previous week's revised average of 40,706.
Nationally, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims during the same period was 847,000, a decrease of 67,000 from the previous week's revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor reports. The four-week moving average was 868,000, an increase of 16,250 from the previous week. For the week ending Jan. 16, DOL reports the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.4%, a decrease of 0.1% 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.
Individuals seeking unemployment benefits should go to https://ui.ok.gov and create an account with the Get Started button to connect their social security number and pull all unemployment information into one location.
Unemployment claimants should be aware that not returning to work when recalled or when work is available could potentially lead to disqualification from receiving unemployment benefits.
Employers may report this activity by emailing email@example.com, calling 405-962-7524, or mailing OESC at P.O. Box 52006, Oklahoma City, OK, 73152-2006.
If a claimant returns to work full time, they should keep their unemployment claim open with OESC and not certify a weekly claim. If they return part time, a claimant may continue to certify their weekly claim and must report all gross earnings for the week to potentially receive a partial benefit. Eligibility for continued benefits is determined on the circumstances of each individual claimant.
OESC is an excellent resource for people looking to re-enter the job market by connecting Oklahomans with available employment through https://okjobmatch.com/.
If a PUA-eligible claimant reopens their business, they will still receive backdated unemployment benefits to when their COVID-19-related job loss or business closure occurred.
Biden faces scrutiny over reliance on executive orders
By AAMER MADHANI Associated Press
President Joe Biden and aides are showing touches of prickliness over growing scrutiny of his heavy reliance on executive orders in his first days in office.
The president in just over a week has already signed more than three dozen executive orders and directives aimed at addressing the coronavirus pandemic as well as a gamut of other issues including environmental regulations, immigration policies and racial justice.
Biden has also sought to use the orders to erase foundational policy initiatives by former President Donald Trump, such as halting construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Biden's early reliance on executive action is at odds with the Democrat's pledge as a candidate to be a consensus builder. The New York Times editorial board ran an opinion piece headlined "Ease up on the Executive Actions, Joe."
Biden on Thursday framed his latest executive actions as an effort to "undo the damage Trump has done" by fiat rather than "initiating any new law." During a brief exchange with reporters in the Oval Office after signing two more executive orders, he noted he was working simultaneously to push his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package through Congress. After being asked by a reporter if he was open to splitting up the relief package, the president responded: "No one requires me to do anything."
Earlier in the day, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield bristled at the criticism of Biden's executive orders in a series of tweets, adding, "Of course we are also pursuing our agenda through legislation. It's why we are working so hard to get the American Rescue Plan passed, for starters."
In his Senate floor speech Thursday morning, McConnell offered a misleading broadside that Biden as a candidate had declared "you can't legislate by executive action unless you are a dictator."
In fact, Biden at an October ABC News town hall had said there are certain "things you can't do by executive order unless you're a dictator" during an exchange about how quickly he'd push his plan to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.
Biden and aides, including top White House economists, have said that they believe executive action is a pale substitute for legislative action. At the same time, they've defended the heavy use of executive action at the start of the administration as a necessary stopgap to address the worst public health crisis in more than a century and reverse some of Trump's policies.
"There are steps, including overturning some of the harmful, detrimental and, yes, immoral actions of the prior administration that he felt he could not wait to overturn, and that's exactly what he did," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
While Biden has used executive action more frequently out of the gate than recent White House predecessors, he's not alone in being a heavy user of presidential fiat -- or being criticized by the opposition party for doing so.
Bill Clinton had 364 orders over two terms, George W. Bush signed 291 over his eight years in office and Barack Obama issued 276. Trump in his one term signed 220 orders.
McConnell on Thursday scoffed that Biden in his first week in the White House "signed more than 30 unilateral actions and working Americans are getting short shrift." He similarly criticized Obama for "imposing his will unilaterally" through executive orders and memoranda.
But McConnell was far more understanding of Trump's decision to use executive orders to get around Congress at various points in the Republican's presidency.
For example, in August, after coronavirus relief negotiations collapsed, Trump signed a series of executive orders that called for deferring payroll taxes for Americans earning less than $100,000 per year, pausing student loan payments, continuing eviction moratoriums and extending, albeit smaller, enhanced unemployment benefits that had expired.
"Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most," McConnell said.
Democrats to 'act big' on $1.9T aid
By LISA MASCARO and JOSH BOAK Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats in Congress and the White House have rejected a Republican pitch to split President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into smaller chunks, with lawmakers appearing primed to muscle the sweeping economic and virus aid forward without GOP help.
Despite Biden's calls for unity, Democrats said the stubbornly high unemployment numbers and battered U.S. economy leave them unwilling to waste time courting Republican support that might not materialize. They also don't want to curb the size and scope of a package that they say will provide desperately needed money to distribute the vaccine, reopen schools and send cash to American households and businesses.
Biden has been appealing directly to Republican and Democratic lawmakers while signaling his priority to press ahead.
"We've got a lot to do, and the first thing we've got to do is get this COVID package passed," Biden said Thursday in the Oval Office.
The standoff over Biden's first legislative priority is turning the new rescue plan into a political test — of his new administration, of Democratic control of Congress and of the role of Republicans in a post-Trump political landscape.
Success would give Biden a signature accomplishment in his first 100 days in office, unleashing $400 billion to expand vaccinations and to reopen schools, $1,400 direct payments to households, and other priorities, including a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Failure would be a high-profile setback early in his presidency.
Democrats in the House and Senate are operating as though they know they are borrowed time. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are laying the groundwork to start the go-it-alone approach as soon as next week.
They are drafting a budget reconciliation bill that would start the process to pass the relief package with a simple 51-vote Senate majority — rather than the 60-vote threshold typically needed in the Senate to advance legislation. The goal would be passage by March, when jobless benefits, housing assistance and other aid is set to expire.
Schumer said he drew from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's advice to "act big" to weather the COVID-19 economic crisis.
"Everywhere you look, alarm bells are ringing," Schumer said from the Senate floor.
Senate Republicans in a bipartisan group warned their colleagues in a "frank" conversation late Wednesday that Biden and Democrats are making a mistake by loading up the aid bill with other priorities and jamming it through Congress without their support, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private session.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a former White House budget director under George W. Bush, wants a deeper accounting of what funds remain from the $900 billion coronavirus aid package from December.
"Literally, the money has not gone out the door," he said. "I'm not sure I understand why there's a grave emergency right now."
Biden spoke directly with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is leading the bipartisan effort with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that is racing to strike a compromise.
Collins said she and the president had a "good conversation."
"We both expressed our shared belief that it is possible for the Senate to work in a bipartisan way to get things done for the people of this country," she said.
The emerging debate is highly reminiscent of the partisan divide over the 2009 financial rescue in the early months of the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president, echoing those battles over the appropriate level of government intervention.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that although Biden wants a bipartisan package, the administration is opposed to breaking it up to win Republican support.
"We're open for business and open to hear from members of Congress on that," she said, noting that lawmakers are not "wallflowers."
But, she said, "we're not going to do this in a piecemeal way or break apart a big package that's meant to address the crisis we're facing."
On Thursday, more than 120 economists and policymakers signed a letter in support of Biden's package, saying the $900 billion that Congress approved in December before he took office was "too little and too late to address the enormity of the deteriorating situation."
Employers shed workers in December, retail sales have slumped and COVID-19 deaths kept rising. More than 430,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus as of Thursday.
At the same time, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits remained at a historically high 847,000 last week, and a new report said the U.S. economy shrunk by an alarming 3.5% last year.
"The risks of going too small dramatically outweigh the risks of going too big," said Gene Sperling, a former director of the White House National Economic Council, who signed the letter.
The government reported Thursday that the economy showed dangerous signs of stalling in the final three months of last year, ultimately shrinking in size by 3.5% for the whole of 2020 — the sharpest downturn since the demobilization that followed the end of World War II.
The decline was not as severe as initially feared, largely because the government has steered roughly $4 trillion in aid, an unprecedented emergency expenditure, to keep millions of Americans housed, fed, employed and able to pay down debt and build savings amid the crisis.
Republican allies touted the 4% annualized growth during the last quarter, with economic analyst Stephen Moore calling the gains "amazing."
Republicans have also raised concerns about adding to the deficit, which skyrocketed in the Trump administration.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third-ranking party leader, said Biden should stick to the call for unity he outlined in his inaugural address, particularly with the evenly split Senate. "If there's ever been a mandate to move to the middle, it's this," he said. "It's not let's just go off the cliff."
But Democrats argue that low interest rates make the debt manageable and that the possibility of returning to work will do more to improve people's well-being.
The days and weeks ahead, against the backdrop of Trump's impeachment trial on a charge of inciting an insurrection with the U.S. Capitol siege, will set the tone, tenor and parameters of what will be possible in Washington.
LeFlore County sports scoreboard 1-28-2021
The LeFlore County sports scoreboard for Thursday.
Stigler 71, Pocola 70
Wister 37, Wilburton 24
Buffalo Valley 54, Cameron 41
Panama 61, LeFlore 53
Pocola 54, Stigler 31.
To report scores or information on games involving LeFlore County teams, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or text (918) 649-4712.
Meeting planned for Heavener coaches
The Heavener Ballpark Association coaches meeting will be held 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at the City Hall conference room.
This meeting is for anyone interested in coaching a t-ball, coach pitch or baseball team at Blues Park this summer.
Rules, practice schedule and dates will be discussed.
For additional information check out the park’s website heavenerballpark.org or contact Tim Davis.
Gray latest ex-Tennessee player to pick OU
NORMAN (AP) — Tennessee running back Eric Gray has announced on Twitter that he will play for Oklahoma, becoming the third Volunteers' player to choose the Sooners in the past few weeks.
Gray gained 1,026 yards from scrimmage in 10 games for Tennessee last season and scored six touchdowns. He was the Volunteers' leading rusher with 772 yards.
Tennessee fired coach Jeremy Pruitt earlier in the month after an internal investigation uncovered recruiting violations. The school said Wednesday that Josh Heupel would be the next head coach.
The other Vols who said they are leaving for Oklahoma: Defensive back Keshawn Lawrence, who played in all 10 games as a reserve defensive back and special teams contributor as a true freshman last season, and offensive lineman Wanya Morris, a former five-star recruit who started 19 games over two years.
Stripling recognized on retirement
Heavener Fire Chief Tim Davis presents Hank Stripling with a plaque commemorating his years of service to the fire department.
Stripling started with the department on Aug. 14, 1979 and retired jan. 2, 2021. He has served the community for over 41 years. Through the years, Stripling has served as training officer, safety officer and assistant chief.
Davis said the department is forever grateful for his dedication and commitment to the citizens of Heavener and the surrounding area.
Shady Point archers win tournament
Shady Point Archery team members Brayli Beason and Hayden Shadwick both placed first at the Bentonville, Arkansas archery tournament Jan. 23.
Beason was the top middle school female out of 59 girls and Shadwick was the top middle school male out of 72 boys. Both also finished as top female and male out of all competitors, grades 4-12.
Blast from the past 1-28-2021
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.
Today’s picture is of a Heavener High School basketball homecoming queen and king. We will need a little help identifying the couple so we request help.
If you have an image you would like to post on the blast from the past, send an email to email@example.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 1-29-2021
Mostly clear skies for Friday in LeFlore County with a chance of rain overnight.
The high will be 56 degrees with a low of 46 degrees.
Sunrise is at 7:19 a.m. with sunset at 5:44 p.m.
Thursday’s high was 48 with a low of 34.
Records for the date were a high of 73 in 1970 with a low of 4 in 1977.
LeFlore County 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legislative breakfast at Donald W. Reynolds Center 8 a.m.
High school basketball; Heavener at Wilburton; Howe at Red Oak; Spiro at Poteau; Clayton at Panama; Bokoshe at Braggs; Pocola at Talihina; Arkoma at Gore.
Gun & Knife Show Reynolds Center 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
High school basketball: Hartshorne at Heavener 2 p.m.
Gun & Knife Show Reynolds Center 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
LeFlore County commissioners meet 9 a.m.
Sign ups for new adult zoom drama classes. Call Heavener Drama Academy (918) 653-2187
Heavener Lions Club meets 5 p.m.
City of Poteau meetings 7 p.m.
High school basketball: Howe at Talihina.
Poteau Evening Lions Club meet 6 p.m. CASC
High school basketball: Heavener at Talihina; Quinton at Howe; Wister at Braggs; Muldrow at Spiro; Cameron at Kinta; Pocola at Stigler; Crowder at Whitesboro; McCurtain at Arkoma.
Poteau Rotary Club meets noon at EOMC
Kiwanis Club meets noon at Western Sizzlin’
Heavener VFW bingo 6 p.m.
Heavener Utilities Authority and Council meeting.
Today in history 1-29-2021
By The Associated Press
Today in History
Today is Friday, Jan. 29, the 29th day of 2021. There are 336 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Jan. 29, 1979, President Jimmy Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (dung shah-oh-ping) to the White House, following the establishment of diplomatic relations.
On this date:
In 1820, King George III died at Windsor Castle at age 81; he was succeeded by his son, who became King George IV.
In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe's famous narrative poem "The Raven" ("Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary...") was first published in the New York Evening Mirror.
In 1919, the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which launched Prohibition, was certified by Acting Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.
In 1936, the first inductees of baseball's Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, were named in Cooperstown, New York.
In 1963, the first charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were named in Canton, Ohio (they were enshrined when the Hall opened in September 1963). Poet Robert Frost died in Boston at age 88.
In 1966, the musical comedy "Sweet Charity" starring Gwen Verdon opened on Broadway.
In 1975, a bomb exploded inside the U.S. State Department in Washington, causing considerable damage, but injuring no one; the radical group Weather Underground claimed responsibility.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced in a nationally broadcast message that he and Vice President George H.W. Bush would seek re-election in the fall.
In 1998, a bomb rocked an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, killing security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. (The bomber, Eric Rudolph, was captured in May 2003 and is serving a life sentence.)
In 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said terrorists were still threatening America — and he warned of "an axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
In 2006, ABC "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and a cameraman were seriously injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq.
In 2015, Rod McKuen, whose music, verse and spoken-word recordings made him one of the best-selling poets in history, died at 81.
Ten years ago: With protests raging, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his first-ever vice president. Kim Clijsters finally won her first Australian Open title and the fourth major of her career, as she beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt, 94, died in Princeton, N.J.
Five years ago: The Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton's home server contained closely guarded government secrets. An avalanche in the Canadian province of British Columbia left five people riding snowmobiles dead. Two American endurance athletes, Daniel Cartica of Chicago and Becca Pizzi of Belmont, Massachusetts, won the World Marathon Challenge by completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. French movie director Jacques Rivette, 87, died in Paris.
One year ago: A charter flight evacuating 195 Americans, including diplomats and their families, left the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the new viral outbreak; they would undergo three days of testing and monitoring at a California military base. World health officials expressed concern that the virus was starting to spread between people outside China. President Donald Trump's lawyers asserted at his Senate trial that a trade of U.S. military aid for political favors – even if proven – could not be grounds for his impeachment. Trump signed into law the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico.
Today's Birthdays: Writer-composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse is 90. Feminist author Germaine Greer is 82. Actor Katharine Ross is 81. Feminist author Robin Morgan is 80. Actor Tom Selleck is 76. R&B singer Bettye LaVette is 75. Actor Marc Singer is 73. Actor Ann Jillian is 71. Rock musician Louie Perez (Los Lobos) is 68. R&B singer Charlie Wilson is 68. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is 67. Actor Terry Kinney is 67. Country singer Irlene Mandrell is 65. Actor Diane Delano is 64. Actor Judy Norton (TV: "The Waltons") is 63. Rock musician Johnny Spampinato is 62. Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis is 61. Rock musician David Baynton-Power (James) is 60. Rock musician Eddie Jackson (Queensryche) is 60. Actor Nicholas Turturro is 59. Rock singer-musician Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) is 57. Actor-director Edward Burns is 53. Actor Sam Trammell is 52. Actor Heather Graham is 51. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is 51. Actor Sharif Atkins is 46. Actor Sara Gilbert is 46. Actor Kelly Packard is 46. Actor Justin Hartley is 44. Actor Sam Jaeger is 44. Writer and TV personality Jedediah Bila is 42. Actor Andrew Keegan is 42. Actor Jason James Richter is 41. Blues musician Jonny Lang is 40. Pop-rock singer Adam Lambert (TV: "American Idol") is 39. Country singer Eric Paslay is 38.
Services set for Leonard Hill Jr.
PANAMA – Funeral services for Leonard Harold Hill Jr., 74, of Panama, are 10 a.m. Monday at Evans Chapel of Memories with Jim Cook officiating.
Burial will follow at the Fort Smith National Cemetery at 2 p.m. under the direction of Evans & Miller Funeral Home.
He passed away Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at his home and was born April 7, 1946 in Elk City to Leonard Sr. and Leota (White) Hill.
He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving in Vietnam retiring as Chief Petty Officer after 25 years in service. His hobbies were watching NASCAR, football and boxing. His grand and great grandchildren were his greatest joy.
Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Ava, of the home; daughters Gaye and Shawn McGuinness of Commerce, Georgia, and Gina and Rod Birckel of Porum; sons Shane Saling of Spiro and Robin Hill; sisters Linda and Bill Miller of McCloud, Lavera and Richard Deramo of Houston, Texas, and Linette Bullock of Harrah; grandchildren Justin and Erika Hendren, Leota Nicole and Hunter Lane, Sha and Trey Upton, Austin and Tara Kennedy, Chad Eatmon and Allyn Saling; and great grandchildren Jasmin, Jaiya, Leonard Jermiah Hendren, Krsna Hutson, Morrison Stone, Jessie, Hazel and Madysen Kennedy.
He was preceded in death by his son, Scott Saling, Grandson, David R. Payton Jr. and brother-in-law, Pete Bullock.
The family will be at the funeral home Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. to visit with relatives and friends.
You may leave an online message at evansandmillerfuneralhomes.com.
Service set for Billy Gibson
A celebration of life service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Ellis Chapel in Wister for Billy (Little Bill) Gibson of Wister.
He died Jan. 25, 2021 and was born on Christmas Day, 1960 in Fort Smith, Arkansas to Iva (Adams) Gibson and Julian Riley Gibson. He was raised by Rose and Delmar Hicks (his paternal aunt and uncle).
He was preceded in death by these family members and also brother Larry Gibson; sister Jane (Gibson) Hiddle; and a dear friend, Cassandra Smith.
He is survived by one brother Frank and wife Ava Gibson of Sibley, Missouri and a foster brother, Larry Don Griffin, of Wister; sisters Mary Hubbard and husband Kenny Hubbard of Roland, Hazel Hefley and Dorothye (Gibson) Farrar and husband Steven of Ketchum.
You may leave an online message at evansandmillerfuneralhomes.com.